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Fact of the Day - THE AFRICAN QUEEN (FILM)


Hepburn and Bogart in a publicity still for the film.


Did you know... that The African Queen is a 1951 British–American adventure film adapted from the 1935 novel of the same name by C. S. Forester. The film was directed by John Huston and produced by Sam Spiegel and John Woolf. The screenplay was adapted by James Agee, John Huston, John Collier and Peter Viertel. It was photographed in Technicolor by Jack Cardiff and has a music score by Allan Gray. The film stars Humphrey Bogart (who won the Academy Award for Best Actor – his only Oscar) and Katharine Hepburn with Robert MorleyPeter BullWalter GotellRichard Marner and Theodore BikelThe African Queen was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1994, with the Library of Congress deeming it "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant". (Wikipedia)


All Aboard These African Queen Facts


Considered an underdog film at the time that the studio didn’t know how to market, The African Queen floated into movie theaters with great success, even earning an Oscar win for Humphrey Bogart and Oscar nominations for Katharine Hepburn and director John Huston.



Bette Davis and husband-wife duo, Charles Laughton and Elsa Lancaster, were interested in starring in adaptions of C. S. Forester’s 1935 novel. After John Huston mentioned his desire to direct the piece, producer Sam Spiegel bought the rights with Humphrey Bogart in mind for the lead. It was considered an independent film, which was especially rare during the studio era.




Originally, the male lead had a cockney accent. However, Spiegel wanted Bogart and the part changed to accommodate him. Katharine Hepburn said, “[Can] you imagine anyone but Bogie playing the part? He was really it – hook, line and sinker.” Hepburn didn’t know Bogart or Huston at the time, but also got the part through Spiegel, after he sent her the book to read.




It was especially rare at the time to shoot on location, and even more rare to go to Africa. Hepburn felt that the movie had to be made on the continent for authenticity sake, but she also just wanted to travel there. In fact, she accepted the part before the script (which she wasn’t quite satisfied with) was even finished. She even played golf while there. While many scenes were filmed in Africa, some had to be shot in California.




Bogie and Lauren Bacall were married in 1945, and the two made quite the Hollywood romance. Hepburn remembered, “She and Bogie seemed to have the most enormous opinion of each other’s charms, and when they fought it was with the utter confidence of two cats locked deliciously in the same cage.” Bacall didn’t just come for the view though. She assisted with getting food for the busy crew and acting as a nurse when many fell ill.




Hepburn was surprised Morley accepted his part because, as she put it, he was a “big London star”. In fact, Morley joined the production late because he was performing in The Little Hut in London, and a double was used for the burial scene. When Hepburn asked why he accepted the role, he said it would be “rather fun to play your brother”. Too bad his character didn’t last long.




Bilharzia is a bug found in polluted water that can enter a host through their pores. Even worse, they can cause boils in the urinary tract and in some cases, be fatal. As a result, scenes that required the leads to be in water were filmed in a tank at the studio. However, the first water tank burst, but thankfully, no one was injured.




Thankfully, the leeches used on their bodies were rubber. However, real bugs were still an issue. Bogie got a jigger between his toes. A local was able to remove the pest though, which was important, as incorrectly doing so could have led to blood poisoning. Soldier ants were also an issue. After being away, Bogie and Bacall returned to their hut to find it covered in ants. Hepburn was bitten severely by ants when they invaded her hut, but her costumes covered the bites.




Huston worried that if Hepburn played her part too angrily the changing relationship between the leads wouldn’t feel natural. So he likened her character to Eleanor Roosevelt and called out the smile that she often wore when visiting the wounded, despite her insecurities about her beauty. The direction helped Kate, and she called it the best pierce of direction that she ever heard. “I was his from there on in,” she said.




Peter Viertel was an uncredited screenwriter for The African Queen that was brought in to help craft the ending of the film. Viertel was so influenced by the experience that he crafted a fictional account entitled White Hunter Black Heart and ran the manuscript by John Huston for his approval. Huston suggested changes, which to his surprise made the Huston-character less likable. The novel was adapted in 1990 with Clint Eastwood as the Huston-character.




In the 1940s, McCarthyism’s spotlight fell on Hollywood. Links and perceived links to communism ended or derailed the careers of actors, writers, and directors. Even Huston, Bogart, Bacall, and Hepburn were suspected of having ties to Communism because of their ideology. Some view The African Queen as their response, since the main characters come up against and prevail over the Germans.




A boat built in 1912 was purchased and named The African Queen. However, it was impossible to fit the crew for lights, camera, and sound on the boat, and so parts of the boat were built on a raft that had enough space. It wasn’t easy work, and they had to deal with engine problems, tangled propellers, hornets, other boats in the way, and even their own boat sinking. There was also a small miniature boat used for shots of them going through rough rapids.


Watch the movie!




Source: Wikipedia - The African Queen (film)  |  The African Queen Facts

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Fact of the Day - EIFFEL TOWER


Did you know.... that the Eiffel Tower is a wrought-iron https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lattice_towerlattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Locally nicknamed "La dame de fer" (French for "Iron Lady"), it was constructed from 1887 to 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair and was initially criticized by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.91 million people ascended it in 2015. (Wikipedia)


Monumental Facts About the Eiffel Tower
BY BENJAMIN LAMPKIN  |  MARCH 31, 2017  |  (UPDATED: MARCH 29, 2019)


On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower opened to the public. Below are some things you might not know about the beloved monument.




To mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, Paris hosted the 1889 World’s Fair (Exposition Universelle). Hoping to be considered for the high-profile project, artists from around the nation sent in plans for a structure to mark the entrance to the fair on the Champ-de-Mars, a public greenspace in the center of Paris.


The commission was given to the consulting and construction firm owned by Gustave Eiffel, a bridge builder, architect, and metals expert. Eiffel also worked in the early 1880s on the Garabit Viaduct, a bridge in the Massif Central region that was, at the time, the highest bridge in the world. Prior to landing the World's Fair project, he also helped design the Statue of Liberty.




The tower's main designer was one of Eiffel’s employees, senior engineer Maurice Koechlin. Engineer Emile Nouguier and the head of the company’s architectural department, Stephen Sauvestre, were also consulted. After viewing Koechlin's initial sketches—which Eiffel felt were too minimalist—the architect instructed Koechlin to include more details and flourishes in his redesign. Eiffel approved the final design in 1884.



Three hundred steel workers spent two years, two months and five days, from 1887 to 1889, constructing the Tower. They used more than 18,000 individual metallic parts, 2.5 million rivets, and 40 tons of paint.




Upon its completion in March 1889, the Tower measured 300 meters (985 feet) high. Surprisingly, this measurement isn't static: Cold weather can shrink the Tower by up to six inches.


For 41 years, the Eiffel Tower stood higher than any building or structure in the world—until it was surpassed by the Chrysler Building in New York, which topped out at 1046 feet. Just a year later the Empire State Building became the tallest in the world at 1454 feet with the spire. In 1957 an antenna was added that increased the Tower’s height by 67 feet, making it 6 feet taller than the Chrysler Building.




Led by author Guy de Maupassant, Alexandre Dumas, Jr., and hundreds of other artists and intellectuals, a petition opposing the project was signed and sent to the Parisian government. They called the Tower “useless and monstrous,” but their protests fell on deaf ears.


Despite the petition, the 1889 World’s Fair was deemed a great success, thanks largely to the Tower's imposing presence. Nearly 2 million people visited the Eiffel Tower during the Fair and spent $1.4 million on tickets, making the 1889 Fair one of the few to actually turn a profit.




The Eiffel Tower was never intended to stand over the Champ-de-Mars permanently, and was scheduled to be dismantled in 1909—that is, until someone realized that its apex was the perfect place for a telegraphy antenna. During the First World War, at the First Battle of the Marnes in 1914, the wireless telegraph transmitter helped jam German communications.


Eiffel, a renowned expert on aerodynamics, published “The Resistance of the Air” in 1913. He and his team designed the Tower to withstand even the strongest winds, and never sway more than 4.5 inches.




The 7 million people who visit the Eiffel Tower every year can now travel to three different sections of the Tower at three different heights. The first level is 189 feet high and includes an observation area, a reception room named after Gustave Eiffel, souvenir shops, an art show, a restaurant (58 Tour Eiffel) and a transparent floor. The second floor, at 379 feet, includes another observation area and Le Jules Verne restaurant. The top level offers amazing panoramic views at 905 feet high and a champagne bar, where you can grab a glass of white or rosé (just expect to pay up to $25 per glass).


The tower has drawn its share of daredevils (Pierre Labric, the future mayor of Montmartre, was arrested for cycling down its stairs in 1923) and overly-enthusiastic admirers. In 2007, a woman with an "objectum sexual" married the tower and changed her name to Erika La Tour Eiffel.




About 60 tons of paint are needed to freshen the monument, which is owned by the City of Paris and operated by a public utility called the Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE). More than 500 people work for the SETE, as tour guides, security, in the post office, and in the Tower’s restaurants, shops, and boutiques.


French resistance fighters cut the cables for the Eiffel Tower’s lifts so Nazi officers and soldiers had to climb the stairs, and the monument was closed to the public during the occupation from 1940 to 1944. Hitler actually ordered the military governor of Paris, Dietrich von Choltitz, to destroy the Tower, along with the rest of the city; fortunately, his order wasn’t carried out.




James Bond chased an assassin through the Tower in A View to a Kill. A murder-mystery called The Man on the Eiffel Tower was released in 1949 and starred future Penguin Burgess Meredith. A scene from The Lavender Hill Mob, which featured future Oscar winners Alec Guinness and Audrey Hepburn, was filmed there. Hundreds of other films have used the Tower as a prop, or a backdrop.

Source: Wikipedia - Eiffel Tower  |  Eiffel Tower Facts

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Fact of the Day - MOUNT RUSHMORE


Did you know.... that Mount Rushmore National Memorial is centered on a colossal sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore (Lakota Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe, or Six Grandfathers) in the Black Hills in Keystone, South Dakota. Sculptor Gutzon Borglum created the sculpture's design and oversaw the project's execution from 1927 to 1941 with the help of his son, Lincoln Borglum. The sculpture features the 60-foot (18 m) heads of Presidents George Washington (1732–1799), Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) and Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), as recommended by Borglum. The four presidents were chosen to represent the nation's birth, growth, development and preservation, respectively.[6] The memorial park covers 1,278 acres (2.00 sq mi; 5.17 km2) and the actual mountain has an elevation of 5,725 feet (1,745 m) above sea level. (Wikipedia)


Facts About Mount Rushmore


Today, the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Theodore Roosevelt gaze over South Dakota’s Black Hills, their images sculpted on the granite slopes of Mount Rushmore. An engineering marvel, this unlikely landmark now draws millions of visitors every year. But the place casts a dark shadow. Built by a Ku Klux Klan sympathizer on land seized from the Sioux during a gold rush, Mount Rushmore is steeped in controversy. Here are 11 little-known facts about its creation and history.




1905 photo of the Six Grandfathers, before

construction began on the Mount Rushmore

National Memorial.


When New York attorney Charles E. Rushmore first laid eyes on the landform in 1884, the presidential sculpting effort was decades away. Reportedly, the visiting lawyer asked his guides if the mountain had a name. Unaware of its importance to the Sioux, they said no—and then one of them added, “We will name it now, and name it Rushmore Peak.” Over time, this evolved into “Mount Rushmore.


Georgia’s Stone Mountain bears a 158-by-76-foot carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and their horses. Borglum came up with the basic concept after the Daughters of the Confederacy asked him to sculpt Lee’s head into the rockface. But on February 25, 1925, 10 years into the project, Borglum was fired after disputes with the organization. Stone Mountain was finished without his involvement; then-Vice President Spiro Agnew attended its dedication ceremony in 1970.




Borglum's model of Mount Rushmore.

Intrigued by Stone Mountain, Jonah LeRoy “Doane” Robinson, South Dakota’s official State Historian, contacted Borglum in 1924. The Black Hills were already a tourist destination, but Robinson wanted an audacious new draw. Turning some local geologic features into a lineup of statues depicting western legends like Buffalo Bill Cody, Sacagawea, Red Cloud, Meriwether Lewis, and William Clark sounded like a good business move to Robinson. But Borglum had other ideas. In addition to changing the monument's proposed location—he opted for Mount Rushmore instead of the nearby granite spires Robinson had chosen—he also changed the people depicted. Feeling the place should be a “national monument commemorating America’s founders and builders,” the sculptor went with a presidential theme.


South Dakota is full of mountains, so why was the monument built on this one? For starters, Borglum realized it was sturdy enough to withstand the rigorous sculpting process. He also liked the fact that Mount Rushmore’s southeastern flank (where the faces now stand) gets good sun exposure. The mountain's fine-grained Harvey Peak granite also influenced Borglun's choice: Though the material was more difficult to carve, it would erode slower than the granite found on other nearby peaks.


It officially ended on October 31, 1941. Borglum unexpectedly died that March, leaving his son, Lincoln, to oversee the last few months of production.


Washington’s head was the first part of the monument to be dedicated, followed by Jefferson’s, Lincoln’s, and finally Roosevelt’s. Meanwhile, a different Roosevelt wanted Susan B. Anthony to join their ranks. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to Borglum in 1936, asking him to include the prominent suffragist’s likeness. A bill reiterating this plea was introduced to Congress the following year, but it didn’t get far due to funding restrictions.




In addition to sculpting these

four heads, the workers also

carved out a secret room behind

the monument.


Dynamite cleared away 90 percent of the unwanted rock, but some tasks were ill-suited for explosives. Once they came within 3 to 6 inches of the desired depth, Borglum’s workers would drill shallow holes in tightly packed rows. Known as “honeycombing,” this trick allowed them to pull off chunks of granite with their bare hands.


While at Rushmore, Borglum and his son organized a baseball team made up entirely of their day-laborers. In 1939, the “Rushmore Drillers” had a great summer, qualifying for the semifinals in South Dakota’s Amateur Baseball Tournament.


Alaska and Hawaii became states in 1959, shifting the geographic center of the U.S. from Smith County, Kansas, to Butte County, South Dakota. The exact spot is located on private land, but roughly 20 miles to the south—in the nearby city of Belle Fourche, South Dakota—there’s a compass-shaped monument honoring America’s midpoint. By car, that attraction’s only 79.4 miles from Mount Rushmore, the most iconic spot in Pennington County.




A prominent member of those Rushmore Drillers, Donald “Nick” Clifford was a right-fielder and the youngest carver ever to work on the monument. He was hired in 1938 at the tender age of 17. Clifford outlived all of his Mount Rushmore co-workers and died in 2019 at 98 years old.


The 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie set aside South Dakota’s Black Hills, Mount Rushmore included, for the exclusive use of indigenous people. Yet the United States hastily redrew the agreed-upon boundaries when General George A. Custer found gold in the region six years later. In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled the U.S. government had acted illegally. As per the ruling, a compensation trust now worth over $1 billion was set aside for the Sioux. That money has never been collected.


Ten years before that Supreme Court decision, a group of 23 Native American activists climbed Mount Rushmore on August 29, 1970. Demanding that the land be restored to the Sioux, the group defied federal regulations and set up camp atop the mountain. Protestors remained at the site until that November, when bad weather finally drove them out. According to Lehman Brightman, the former President of the United Native Americans organization and one of the event’s architects, it was “the first Sioux Indian uprising” since Custer’s lifetime.


Source: Wikipedia - Mount Rushmore  |  Mount Rushmore Facts

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Fact of the Day - The OCEAN


Surface view of the Atlantic Ocean


Did you know... that the ocean is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth. It is also "any of the large bodies of water into which the great ocean is divided". These five oceans are, in descending order by area, the Pacific, Atlantic, Indian, Southern, and Arctic Oceans. (Wikipedia)


Unbelievable Facts About the Ocean
by Sustainability  |  08/04/2020


The climate crisis has given us all a renewed appreciation for our planet’s oceans and the marine life that lives beneath the water’s surface, as well as ocean conservation projects led by initiatives like the TreadRight Foundation. These 10 unbelievable ocean facts illustrate just how important these initiatives are.




1. Our oceans cover more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface.
With so much of the Earth’s surface taken up by ocean, it’s evident how vital these marine environments are to the planet, and how much there still is to be explored.


2. The majority of life on Earth is aquatic.
As so much of the Earth’s surface is underwater, it comes as no surprise that marine species outnumber those on land. But, it’s an incredible 94 per cent of the Earth’s living species that exist within the oceans.




3. Less than five per cent of the planet’s oceans have been explored.
According to the Ocean Service, man has explored less than five per cent of Earth’s oceans. As researchers strive to discover more, we’re continually getting to know our oceans better.


4. The world’s longest mountain chain is underwater.
Earth’s longest chain of mountains, the Mid-Ocean Ridge, is almost entirely beneath the ocean, stretching across a distance of 65,000 kilometres. It’s said that this mountain chain is less explored than the surface of Venus or Mars.



Christ of the Abyss


5. There are more historic artefacts under the sea than in all of the world’s museums.
Around 1,000 shipwrecks lie off the Florida Keys alone, some of which are within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Other underwater museums have been created in recent years, including the Mediterranean’s submerged bronze statue, Christ of the Abyss.


You might also likeWhy our oceans and beaches need us now


6. We still only know a fraction of the marine species in our oceans.
According to the World Register of Marine Species there are now 240,470 accepted species, but this is believed to be just a small proportion of the species that exist, with new marine life being discovered everyday.




7. Over 70 per cent of our planet’s oxygen is produced by the ocean.
It’s thought that between 70 and 80 per cent of the oxygen we breathe is produced by marine plants, nearly all of which are marine algae.


8. It’s possible to find rivers and lakes beneath the ocean.
When salt water and hydrogen sulfide combine, it becomes denser than the rest of the water around it, enabling it to form a lake or river that flows beneath the sea.




9. Around 50 per cent of the US lies beneath the ocean.
Not only does a large part of the planet exist beneath the ocean, so does the United States – around 50 per cent, in fact.


10. The Pacific Ocean is the world’s largest ocean and contains around 25,000 islands.
With 25,000 islands lying within it, the Pacific Ocean has more islands than anywhere else on the planet.


Through projects like Shark Savers and Surfrider, the TreadRight Foundation champions the importance of our planet’s oceans, which we at Trafalgar support wholeheartedly through our JoinTrafalgar initiatives.

Source: Wikipedia - Ocean  |  Unbelievable Ocean Facts

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Fact of the Day - RAINBOWS


Double rainbow and supernumerary rainbows

on the inside of the primary arc. The shadow

of the photographer's head on the bottom

marks the centre of the rainbow circle

(antisolar point).


Did you know.... that a rainbow is a meteorological phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction and dispersion of light in water droplets resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. It takes the form of a multicoloured circular arc. Rainbows caused by sunlight always appear in the section of sky directly opposite the Sun. Rainbows can be full circles. However, the observer normally sees only an arc formed by illuminated droplets above the ground, and centered on a line from the sun to the observer's eye. In a primary rainbow, the arc shows red on the outer part and violet on the inner side. This rainbow is caused by light being refracted when entering a droplet of water, then reflected inside on the back of the droplet and refracted again when leaving it. In a double rainbow, a second arc is seen outside the primary arc, and has the order of its colours reversed, with red on the inner side of the arc. This is caused by the light being reflected twice on the inside of the droplet before leaving it.  (Wikipedia)


Curious Facts About Rainbows
By Melissa Breyer  |  Updated May 08, 2020



Who knew these “rainy arches” had such a colorful history?!

It’s hard to see a rainbow and not feel like a little special something is happening. Some of us may even stop in our tracks and swoon at the beauty of the thing, not to mention become elated at the promise of good fortune to follow. Rainbows are stunning, like shooting stars and Northern lights, they are total magic, Mother Nature style. A fact not lost on just about every culture since time began. But while we all know that a pot of gold awaits the person lucky enough to get to the end of a rainbow, what else do we really know about these candy-colored phenomena? There’s more to a rainbow than meets the eye! Consider the following:



  • Rainbow” comes from the Latin arcus pluvius, meaning “rainy arch.”
  • In Greek and Roman times, it was believed that rainbows were a path created by the goddess of the rainbow, Iris, linking us to the immortals.
  • What do rainbows have to so with peacocks? The Greeks used the word “iris” to refer to any colored circle, thus the iris of the eye or even the spot on the tail of a peacock. Other words that take their cue from the goddess of the rainbow include the iris flower, the chemical iridium, and the word “iridescent.”




  • Even though rainbows figure prominently in the myths and religions of so many cultures throughout history, no one had any idea what the heck they actually were until the 17th century.
  • The Greek epic poet Homer believed that rainbows were made of a single color, purple. (How decidedly unpoetic.)
  • The Greek philosopher Xenophanes elaborated by bestowing the rainbow with another two colors, saying that it was comprised of purple, yellow-green, and red.
  • Aristotle agreed with Xenophanes in his treatise, Meteorologica: “The rainbow has three colors, and these three, and no others.” Apparently this was a hot topic!
  • During the Renaissance, it was decided that, no, there were four colors: red, blue, green, and yellow. By the 17th century, western thinkers had agreed upon five colors: red, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
  • In 1637 René Descartes discovered that rainbows were caused by light from the sun being split into different colors by rain. Gold star for Descartes.
  • In 1666, Isaac Newton added indigo and orange to give us the seven-colored ROYGBIV that we all know and love today. However, in China rainbows are considered to contain just five colors.





  • The truth is, there is no set number of colors in a rainbow! Each hue blends into the next without a hard boundary, leaving the interpretation up to the person who sees it and the culture that has defined it. (I'm going with 28 colors, so there.)
  • And in fact, a rainbow doesn’t even actually “exist,” ... it’s not an object, it’s an optical phenomenon. Which is why no two people see the same rainbow.
  • The Telegraph explains the magic as such: "Each raindrop acts as a tiny, imperfect mirror. When the sun is right behind you its light passes through the raindrops in front of you, reflects off their rear surface and bounces back at you. The light is refracted or “bent” slightly as it passes from the air into the water; and again as it bounces back into the air again. The different wavelengths that combine to make daylight are “bent” by different amounts (42o for the red end of the spectrum, a shade less for the violet). Each raindrop acts as both prism (refraction) and mirror (reflection)."
  • Double rainbows occur when light bounces inside the water droplet more than once before escaping, the spectrum of the second arch will be reversed. Sometimes third or fourth rainbows can be seen.
  • Between a rainbow and its double the sky is darker because light reflected in raindrops in this part does not reach the observer. Word nerd alert! This area has a name: an Alexander's band, named after Alexander of Aphrodisias who first described it in 200 AD.
  • Rainbows can occur in mist, fog, sea spray, waterfalls and anywhere where light meets water in the sky and the angles are conducive. There are also rare moonbows, made at night by the light of the moon ... though our eyes read these as white. This is a very good time to look for unicorns.
  • The world’s longest-lasting (or longest-observed) rainbow was seen over Sheffield, England on March 14, 1994 – it lasted from 9am to 3pm. (If there were ever an opportunity to secure a pot of gold...!)



Sheffield, England on March 14, 1994


  • Bonus! The number one rainbow-related video on YouTube, with a current 188,074,716 views, belongs to Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole's ukulele-fueled rendition of "Over the Rainbow." But since I'm old-school, here's Judy Garland and Toto instead.



Source: Wikipedia - Rainbow  |  Curious Facts About Rainbows

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Fact of the Day - Serval


A serval cat at Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.


Did you know.... that the serval is a wild cat native to Africa. It is rare in North Africa and the Sahel, but widespread in sub-Saharan countries, except rainforest regions. Across its range, it occurs in protected areas, and hunting it is either prohibited or regulated in range countries. It was first described by von Schreber in 1776. It is the sole member of the genus Leptailurus. Three subspecies are recognised. The serval is a slender, medium-sized cat that stands 54–62 cm (21–24 in) at the shoulder and weighs 9–18 kg (20–40 lb). It is characterised by a small head, large ears, a golden-yellow to buff coat spotted and striped with black, and a short, black-tipped tail. The serval has the longest legs of any cat relative to its body size. The serval is a solitary carnivore and active both by day and at night. It preys on rodents, particularly vlei rats, small birdsfrogsinsects, and reptiles, using its sense of hearing to locate prey. It leaps over 2 m (6 ft 7 in) above the ground to land on the prey on its forefeet, and finally kills it with a bite on the neck or the head. Both genders establish highly overlapping home ranges of 10 to 32 km2 (4 to 12 sq mi), and mark them with feces and saliva. Mating takes place at different times of the year in different parts of their range, but typically once or twice a year in an area. After a gestational period of two to three months, a litter of one to four is born. The kittens are weaned at the age of one month and begin hunting on their own at six months of age. They leave their mother at the age of around 12 months. (Wikipedia)


Serval Facts
by BCR  |  February 2, 2018  |  Big Cat Facts  |  News World



Servals, like Cleo Cat Tra

have become the next biggest

cat people buy since they

cannot trade in great cats

and cougars as pets across

state lines.




Common Name: Serval
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata (Vertebrata)
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Genus: Felinae (Leptailurus)
Species: Serval (L.s. constantina)
Barbary Serval thought to now be Extinct


  • Misc:

The name Serval is derived from a Portuguese word meaning “wolf-deer.


  • Size and Appearance:


Often referred to as the cat of spare parts, this unusual, but beautiful cat is among the feline family’s most successful. It has a small, delicate head and extremely large ears set on an elongated neck, long slim legs (hind legs longer than front), long slender body and a short tail. The ears are black on the back with a distinctive white spot, and the tail has 6 or 7 black rings and a black tip. The coat color is pale yellow with black markings, either of large spots that tend to merge into longitudinal stripes on the neck and back, or of numerous small spots, which give a speckled appearance. These “speckled” Servals from west Africa – called servalines – used to be considered a separate species Felis brachyura, until it was demonstrated that the speckled pattern was just a variation or “morph”.




  • Habitat:

Servals are found in well-watered savannah long-grass environments, and are associated with reed beds and other riparian vegetation types. They occupy a variety of habitats all associated with water sources, they range up into alpine grasslands and can penetrate deep dense forests along waterways and through grassy patches, but are absent from rain forests. They will make use of arid areas in extreme instances, and have occasionally done so in parts of south-western Africa.


  • Distribution:

sub-Saharan Africa, with small populations in south-west Africa, and a reported relict population in North Africa (no recent sightings confirmed).


  • Reproduction and Offspring:



After a gestation of approximately 73 days, females produce a litter of 1-5 kittens, with 2 being the average. They weigh in at around 8.5-9 ounces at birth, and it will take 9-12 days until their eyes open. They begin to take solid foods around the age of 3 weeks, and are independent between 6-8 months, but may remain in their natal ranges. They attain sexual maturity between 18-24 months, and it is at this time that they will be forced out of their mother’s territory.


In captivity, Servals have lived past 20 years at Big Cat Rescue and up to 19 years in other facilities.


  • Social System and Communication:

Servals are solitary animals, and social interactions are limited to periods of mating. Each sex maintains its own territory. Hear our chirps, purrs, hisses, snarls, calls, and growl sounds HERE




  • Hunting and Diet:

Much like the big bad wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood” the Servals big ears are “the better to hear you with!” The serval’s sensitive hearing allows it to locate small mammals moving through the grass or underground, and to hunt its prey sometimes without seeing it until the final pounce. It also has the ability to leap vertically and catch prey such as birds, right out of the air. They do this by “clapping” with their front paws together and striking with a downward blow. Primary prey items for the Serval includes rodents, birds, reptiles, fish, frogs and insects. Servals have a hunting success rate of 50%.


  • Principal Threats:

The main threats to Servals are leopards, dogs, and of course, man. Because of their beautiful pelage, they are a prime target for poachers. Their skins are sold as young leopards or cheetahs, which are much scarcer. The pelt trade for they are sold is mostly for domestic ceremonial, medicinal purposes or the tourist trade rather than for commercial export. There is also the issue of preserving the land that makes up their homeland, which is destroyed by human encroachment or from annual burning of grasslands. Some tribes hunt and kill the Serval for their flesh, which is considered a delicacy.


  • Felid TAG recommendation:

Serval (Leptailurus serval). Common in nature and captivity, this species is important for institutions with zoogeographic themes, as well as for educational uses. Most specimens probably can be traced to a subspecies. Currently, there are more servals in zoos than recommended by the RCP. The PMP target population is 80 individuals. 91% of the population is of unknown origin and not suitable for breeding. The first stud book ever was published for this species in 2003.


How rare is this cat? The International Species Information Service lists 292 in zoos worldwide, with 130 being in the U.S.




Information reprinted With Permission from the IUCN Wild Cats Book.





Source: Wikipedia - Serval  |  Big Cats - Serval Facts

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The Pyramid of Sahure at Abusir,

viewed from the pyramid's causeway


Did you know... that The Egyptian pyramids are ancient pyramid-shaped masonry structures located in Egypt. As of November 2008, sources cite either 118 or 138 as the number of identified Egyptian pyramids. Most were built as tombs for the country's pharaohs and their consorts during the Old and Middle Kingdom periods. (Wikipedia)


Fascinating Facts about the Egyptian Pyramids
by Saugat Adhikari  |  Last updated: April 9, 2019


When archaeologists started looking for fragments of previous civilizations they discovered many pyramids in China and other places. The pyramids in China were recently built and had no historical significance but the pyramids of Egypt were fascinating, very old and much historical value could be extracted from them.


These pyramids had been built with care and thought, and to demolish these structures without the help of machines would take years. Some of the pyramids in Egypt are still standing tall with little deterioration in their basic structure and to see such geometrically sound constructions built only with the materials to hand at the time and without any knowledge of modern building techniques is of crucial historical significance.


Some facts about the Egyptian pyramids are listed below:


Egyptian pyramids were built to preserve tombs



In ancient Egypt, tombs were only built for pharaohs and not the general population, but because the Egyptian dynasties lasted for such a long period there are quite a few tombs still in existence today. The pharaohs’ tombs were meant to preserve their bodies and souls. The Egyptians had a very strong belief in the afterlife and thought the dead would continue to live as they had on earth. This can be seen in the tradition of making offerings to the dead, including food, to help them to flourish in the afterlife.


As the number of tombs increased, people felt the need to protect them, and this is how the concept of pyramids came about. Pyramids were mainly for the tombs of the pharaohs, and other, less significant people had smaller kinds of pyramids called monas, way below the main pyramids to show their position in relation to their kings.




When the Egyptian pharaohs took over their thrones, they immediately ordered a new pyramid to be built. There is a long-held belief that the construction authorities forced the pharaohs’ servants to build the pyramids but this is not true. Workers willingly volunteered to build the pyramids and were paid on a daily basis. They were also given complimentary food to keep them healthy and strong in order to keep building the pyramids as the stones were heavy and they had little technology to help them. It is almost impossible to believe that humans did all the work manually, and research is still being carried out into what tools the Egyptians of that era used to attain such precision in measurement and alignment.


The pyramids faced exactly due north
Most of the pyramids that were made were built on the west bank of the river Nile, the only river that flowed through Egypt. It was also considered the national highway at that time as people felt that waterways were the best way to transport goods. They also used to believe that their sun god would travel with them on the water in his own solar boat. The buildings were made of limestone, and the outer layer was polished to a high sheen. The reflective nature of this surface helped to deflect the sunlight and keep the mummies preserved. The position of the setting sun was thought to be where the kingdom of the dead was and so the pyramids were located where the sun set and not where it rose.


Another observation that was made about the pyramids was that they all pointed to the north, and the pole star was precisely above the pyramid. Another fascinating fact is that the positioning of the pyramids resembled constellations, and it remains a mystery how the Egyptians were able to be so precise without any advanced knowledge in this field.


The Great Pyramid of Giza



What we now call the Great Pyramid of Giza is the oldest and the greatest pyramid of the three pyramids found there. This pyramid is one of the seven wonders of the world. It was built for Pharaoh Khufu of the eighth dynasty and constructed between 2580 and 2560 BC.


It contains chambers specially made for the king and queen, the Robbers’ Tunnel, a modern opening gate, the Grand Gallery, and a huge void deep inside the pyramid. Approximately 2.3 billion rocks were used to make this pyramid, but its precise dimensions are difficult to work out as they are in Egyptian units. There are not many other pyramids that are as intriguing as the Giza pyramid making it a favorite tourist destination. Most of the government’s revenue from tourism is due to the popularity of this pyramid.


The jewel
A lot of thought went into the pyramids’ construction, showing the deep love and respect the people had for their pharaohs and for the dead in general. The pyramids were made of local limestone that was available in abundance in Egypt, and the outsides were highly polished. These stones used to sparkle in the sunlight, making the pyramid shine like a huge jewel. They could be seen from the mountains of Israel, and some people speculate that they could have been seen from the moon as well. The other special feature about these pyramids was that although the sun was very hot outside, the temperature inside the pyramid remained constant at 20 degrees Celsius, acting as a giant air-conditioning unit.


The doors of the pyramids weighed up to 20 tonnes
The doors of the pyramids were very heavy. The Egyptians alone may have known how to open these great doors. In fact, the doors were so heavy that they were almost unidentifiable as doors as they did not open easily at all. Their opening mechanism was only discovered when the Great Pyramid was being studied by scientists who realized that they were huge swivel doors. The door had the strange feature of being very easy to open with just one hand from the inside but almost impossible to open from the outside. How the Egyptians were able to balance these 20-tonne doors in order to create this effect remains a mystery.


The pyramids contained tunnels and mysterious boxes



Tunnels were discovered beneath the Giza pyramids and this shows that the Egyptians had mastered this building technology way before we rediscovered it. As well as tunnels, boxes that were cut with great precision were also found. Each of these boxes weighed as much as 100 tonnes. Many believed that they were meant for burying bulls but no evidence of bulls inside the pyramids has ever been found so this theory cannot been proved.


The stones were heavier than elephants
The stones that were used to build the pyramids were almost 10 tonnes each – heavier than an elephant, in other words. How they were able to lift these stones up to the height of the pyramids remains a mystery and is still being researched by scientists. The pyramids rose to about 203 steps and each of the stones have been placed with astonishing precision and still stand strong today.


It took 200 years to build a pyramid


A lot of time and effort was required to build these beautiful pyramids, each one averaging about two centuries. About 138 pyramids were built in ancient Egypt and their beauty lies not only in their construction but also in the phenomenal amount of thought that went into their positioning in relation to the stars.


Every pyramid had been robbed of its treasure by 1000 BC


The Egyptians believed that their pharaohs should be buried along with their treasure and sometimes even their slaves. Hence gold, jewelry, clothes etc were put in the tombs with the mummies. However, over the years, rulers of other kingdoms have destroyed the pyramids and taken these jewels and valuables back to their own respective kingdoms. Although the pyramids are very hard to damage, smaller pyramids were targeted, and their riches plundered. One such example of this can be seen in the Great Pyramid of Giza. There is evidence of a failed break-in and the deep hole that was made in the pyramid’s structure is still visible today.


The construction of these pyramids is just so incredible that much research has gone into how to make equivalently strong structures today. The mortar used is still unknown, and scientists have not even been able to determine where the mortar came from.


It is astonishing that the ancient Egyptians could create buildings with such precision, and this careful, intelligent level of construction can be seen in other monuments in Egypt as well, not just the pyramids. Without the help of machinery, and even before the invention of the wheel, they achieved as much as modern man is able to today. It is also possible to see progression in their building techniques when you compare the earlier pyramids to the later models, such as in the fine polishing of the exteriors.



Source: Wikipedia - Egyptian Pyramids  |  Facts About Egyptian Pyramids

Edited by DarkRavie
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Fact of the Day - ASTRONAUT


NASA astronaut Bruce McCandless II

using a Manned Maneuvering Unit

outside Space Shuttle Challenger on

shuttle mission STS-41-B in 1984.


Did you know.... that an astronaut is a person trained, equipped, and deployed by a human spaceflight program to serve as a commander or crew member aboard a spacecraft. Although generally reserved for professional space travelers, the terms are sometimes applied to anyone who travels into space, including scientists, politicians, journalists and tourists. "Astronaut" technically applies to all human space travelers regardless of nationality or allegiance; however, astronauts fielded by Russia or the Soviet Union are typically known instead as cosmonauts (from the Russian "kosmos" (космос), meaning "universe", also borrowed from Greek) in order to distinguish them from American or otherwise NATO-oriented space travellers. Comparatively recent developments in manned spaceflight made by China and other East Asian nations have also led to the rise of the term taikonaut (from the Mandarin "tàikōng" (太空), meaning "space"), although its use is somewhat informal and its origin is unclear. Until 2002, astronauts were sponsored and trained exclusively by governments, either by the military or by civilian space agencies. With the suborbital flight of the privately funded SpaceShipOne in 2004, a new category of astronaut was created: the commercial astronaut. (Wikipedia)


Out Of This World Facts About Astronauts

by Mathew Burke  |  Factinate


That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” -Neil Armstrong


Astronauts are some of our best and brightest who are tasked with expanding the horizon of human exploration. The word Astronaut was coined by NASA, and derived from the Greek words Asitron (star) and nautes (sailor). The Soviet Space agency uses a similar term- Cosmonaut, which means “sailor among the universe”.


Here are 45 out of this world facts about astronauts.




2000 Mile High Club
Commanders do not allow sexual intercourse on board the International Space Station. The question arose when a 2010 mission quadrupled the number of women on board from one to four, putting four men and four women in orbit. The first married couple went to space in 1991, when training-camp sweethearts Jan Davis and Mark Lee served together on a mission. Both have refused to answer questions about the nature of their relationship during the mission. NASA has officially stated that if anyone has ever had sex in space, they know nothing about it.




I Want to Be an Astronaut
In 2017, more than 18,000 people applied to join Nasa’s astronaut class. That’s almost three times the number of applications that were received in 2012, and far surpasses the record of 8000 applications set in 1978.




We’ll Call You
The selection process for NASA takes 18 months, and of the thousands of applications received, only 8-14 individuals will get the opportunity to become an astronaut.



2017 NASA Astronaut Candidate Class Visits Goddard 


Not so Fast
Once selected, applicants are still not considered full astronauts. They face two years of basic training where they are considered “astronaut candidates”.




Must Speak Russian
Astronauts spend hours learning to read and speak Russian. Spoken fluency is necessary for safety reasons, and passing a competency test is a requirement for NASA.




The Vomit Comet
Astronaut recruits get training in a specially fitted aircraft that uses a flight method called parabolic flight which creates a weightless environment for 20-25 second intervals. The exercise puts strain on the body, making 1 out of every 3 astronauts feel sick, thus earning the nickname “the vomit comet”.




Fallen Astronaut
The Apollo 15 mission placed an astronaut figure on the moon with a memorial plaque listing the 14 people who had died on space missions. The sculpture was named “The Fallen Astronaut”.



View of Commemorative plaque left on moon at Hadley-Apennine

landing site. A close-up view of a commemorative plaque left on

the Moon at the Hadley-Apennine landing site in memory of 14

NASA astronauts and USSR cosmonauts, now deceased. Their

names are inscribed in alphabetical order on the plaque. The

plaque was stuck in the lunar soil by Astronauts David R. Scott

and James B. Irwin during their Apollo 15 lunar surface extravehicular

activity. The tiny, man-like object represents the figure of a fallen astronaut/cosmonaut.


Left His Family in Space
Apollo 16 Astronaut Charles Duke left not only his footprints, but a photograph of his wife and their two sons sitting on a bench. Duke signed the back of the photograph and wrote the following message: “’This is the family of Astronaut Duke from Planet Earth. Landed on the Moon, April 1972.’” The photograph remains to this day.




Gravity Sucks
Astronauts can be quite clumsy when they return from a long stay on the International Space Station (ISS) . The have reported dropping objects like pens and keys because they are used to not having to hold things in zero gravity.





Click the link below ⬇️ to read more about Astronauts


Source: Facts About Astronauts  |  Wikipedia - Astronaut

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Fact of the Day - KNIGHTS TEMPLAR


A Seal of the Knights Templar


Did you know.... that the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon, also known as the Order of Solomon's Temple, the Knights Templar or simply the Templars, were a Catholic military order founded in 1119, headquartered on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem through 1128 when they went to meet with Pope Honorius II. They were recognized in 1139 by the papal bull Omne datum optimum. The order was active until 1312 when it was perpetually suppressed by Pope Clement V by the bull Vox in excelso. The Templars became a favored charity throughout Christendom, and grew rapidly in membership and power. They were prominent in Christian finance. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were amongst the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the order, who made up as much as 90% of their members, managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, developing innovative financial techniques that were an early form of banking, building its own network of nearly 1,000 commanderies and fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land, and arguably forming the world's first multinational corporation. The Templars were closely tied to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the order faded. Rumours about the Templars' secret initiation ceremony created distrust, and King Philip IV of France – deeply in debt to the order – took advantage of this distrust to destroy them and erase his debt. In 1307, he had many of the order's members in France arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and burned at the stake. Pope Clement V disbanded the order in 1312 under pressure from King Philip. The abrupt reduction in power of a significant group in European society gave rise to speculation, legend, and legacy through the ages. (Wikipedia)


Knights Templar


The Knights Templar was a large organization of devout Christians during the medieval era who carried out an important mission: to protect European travelers visiting sites in the Holy Land while also carrying out military operations. A wealthy, powerful and mysterious order that has fascinated historians and the public for centuries, tales of the Knights Templar, their financial acumen, their military prowess and their work on behalf of Christianity during the Crusades still circulate throughout modern culture.


Who Were the Knights Templar?

After Christian armies captured Jerusalem from Muslim control in 1099 during the Crusades, groups of pilgrims from across Western Europe started visiting the Holy Land. Many of them, however, were robbed and killed as they crossed through Muslim-controlled territories during their journey. Around 1118, a French knight named Hugues de Payens created a military order along with eight relatives and acquaintances, calling it the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon—later known simply as the Knights Templar. With the support of Baldwin II, the ruler of Jerusalem, they set up headquarters on that city’s sacred Temple Mount, the source of their now-iconic name, and pledged to protect Christian visitors to Jerusalem.


The Pope’s Endorsement

Initially, the Knights Templar faced criticism from some religious leaders. But in 1129, the group received the formal endorsement of the Catholic Church and support from Bernard of Clairvaux, a prominent French abbot. Bernard authored “In Praise of the New Knighthood,” a text that supported the Knights Templar and bolstered their growth. In 1139, Pope Innocent II issued a Papal Bull that allowed the Knights Templar special rights. Among them, the Templars were exempt from paying taxes, permitted to build their own oratories and were held to no one’s authority except the Pope’s.


The Knights Templars at Work

The Knights Templar set up a prosperous network of banks and gained enormous financial influence. Their banking system allowed religious pilgrims to deposit assets in their home countries and withdraw funds in the Holy Land. The order became known for its austere code of conduct (which included no pointy shoes and no kissing their mothers, rules outlined inThe Rule of the Templars”) and signature style of dress, which featured a white habit emblazoned with a simple red cross. Members swore an oath of poverty, chastity and obedience. They weren’t allowed to drink, gamble or swear. Prayer was essential to their daily life, and the Templars expressed particular adoration for the Virgin Mary. As the Knights Templar grew in size and status, it established new chapters throughout Western Europe. At the height of their influence, the Templars boasted a sizable fleet of ships, owned the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, and served as a primary bank and lending institution to European monarchs and nobles.


Expanded Duties of the Knights


Top Templar sites in Western Europe.

Though its original purpose was to protect pilgrims from danger, the Knights Templar progressively expanded its duties. They became defenders of the Crusader states in the Holy Land and were known as brave, highly skilled warriors. The group developed a reputation as fierce fighters during the Crusades, driven by religious fervor and forbidden from retreating unless significantly outnumbered. The Templars built numerous castles and fought – and often won – battles against Islamic armies. Their fearless style of fighting became a model for other military orders.


The Fall of the Knights Templar


Siege of Acre (1291)

In the late 12th century, Muslim armies retook Jerusalem and turned the tide of the Crusades, forcing the Knights Templar to relocate several times. The Fall of Acre in 1291 marked the destruction of the last remaining Crusader refuge in the Holy Land. European support of the military campaigns in the Holy Land began to erode over the decades that followed. Additionally, many secular and religious leaders became increasingly critical of the Templars’ wealth and power. By 1303, the Knights Templar lost its foothold in the Muslim world and established a base of operations in Paris. There, King Philip IV of France resolved to bring down the order, perhaps because the Templars had denied the indebted ruler additional loans.


Arrests and Executions


The execution of Jacques de Molay, head of the most controversial

order in Christian history – the Knights Templar, accused of satanic

crimes but themselves victims of a cruel conspiracy …

On Friday, October 13, 1307, scores of French Templars were arrested, including the order’s grand master Jacques de Molay. Many of the knights were brutally tortured until they confessed to false charges, which included heresy, homosexuality, financial corruption, devil-worshipping, fraud, spitting on the cross and more. A few years later, dozens of Templars were burned at the stake in Paris for their confessions. De Molay was executed in 1314. Under pressure from King Philip, Pope Clement V reluctantly dissolved the Knights Templar in 1312. The group’s property and monetary assets were given to a rival order, the Knights Hospitallers. However, it’s thought that King Philip and King Edward II of England seized most of the Knights Templar’s wealth.


The Knights Templar Today


Modern Knights Templar

The Catholic Church has acknowledged that the persecution of the Knights Templar was unjustified. The church claims that Pope Clement was pressured by secular rulers to destroy the order. While most historians agree that the Knights Templar fully disbanded 700 years ago, there are some people who believe the order went underground and remains in existence in some form to this day. In the 18th century, some groups, most notably the Freemasons, revived several of the medieval knights’ symbols, rituals and traditions. Currently, there are several international organizations styled after the Knights Templar that the public can join. These groups have representatives around the world and aim to uphold the values and traditions of the original medieval order. Throughout the years, various tales have surfaced about the knights’ mysterious work. More recently, stories about the legendary Templars have found their way into popular books and movies.


Some historians have claimed that the Knights Templar may have secretly guarded the Shroud of Turin (a linen cloth believed to be placed on Jesus Christ’s body before burial) for hundreds of years after the Crusades ended. Another widespread belief is that the knights discovered and kept religious artifacts and relics, such as the Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant and parts of the cross from Christ’s crucifixion. Various other ideas and myths exist about the Knights Templar’s secret operations. The popular novel and film The Da Vinci Code presents a theory that the Templars were involved in a conspiracy to preserve the bloodline of Jesus Christ. Although much of these speculations are considered fictional, there’s no question that the Knights Templar have provoked intrigue and fascination and will likely continue to do so for years to come.


Source: Wikipedia - Knights Templar  |  Knights Templar - History

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Fact of the Day - FOOD SECURITY


A woman selling produce at a market in

Lilongwe, Malawi.


Did you know..... that food security is a measure of the availability of food and individuals' ability to access it. According the United Nations’ Committee on World Food Security, food security is defined as the means that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life. The availability of food irrespective of class, gender or region is another one. There is evidence of food security being a concern many thousands of years ago, with central authorities in ancient China and ancient Egypt being known to release food from storage in times of famine. At the 1974 World Food Conference the term "food security" was defined with an emphasis on supply; food security is defined as the "availability at all times of adequate, nourishing, diverse, balanced and moderate world food supplies of basic foodstuffs to sustain a steady expansion of food consumption and to offset fluctuations in production and prices". Later definitions added demand and access issues to the definition. The final report of the 1996 World Food Summit states that food security "exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life." (Wikipedia)


by Aly Mashek  |  Shared in Blog, Empowering Communities  |  September 19, 2016


World Food Day is just around the corner: October 16, 2016 will be a global day of action against hunger. This year’s World Food Day theme, “Climate is changing. Food and agriculture must too,” draws focus to the effects of climate change on global food security. As the world endures changes in temperature and precipitation, the projected state of global food security is concerning. According to the World Food Programme, food producers will need intensive labor support, including technological improvements, to avoid massive crop loss or even complete unavailability of cultivation. Key regions in Africa, China, the United States Great Plains and others are projected to experience extreme climate changes that will minimize the accessibility of food to distributors around the world.


Here are ten important things to know about the state of global food security and climate change:



The agricultural productivity losses due to increased temperature are estimated to induce hunger and malnutrition rates up 20 percent by 2050. (Source: World Food Programme)



Over one-third of food produced worldwide is wasted. That amounts to about 1.3 billion tons per year. (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations)



Climate change is making climate disasters, such as floods and droughts, more frequent and intense, land and water more scarce and difficult to access, and increases in agricultural productivity even harder to achieve. (Source: World Food Programme)



According to the IPCC, crop yield declines of 10-25 percent may be prevalent by 2050 because of climate change. (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States)



As a result of climate change, two-thirds of the arable land in Africa could be lost by 2025. (Source: World Food Programme)



By 2030, climate change could push food prices up by 50-90 percent more than they would otherwise be expected to rise. (Source: World Food Programme)



Climate change puts millions of people’s lives at risk, and traps poor households in food insecurity and poverty. Climate shocks disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people at risk of hunger, especially women and children. The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in fragile environments prone to climate hazards with which they cannot cope. When climate disasters strike, the situation of already vulnerable people can quickly deteriorate into a food and nutrition crisis. (Source: World Food Programme)



By 2050, we can expect 24 million more malnourished children as a result of climate change. Almost half of this increase, 10 million children, will be in sub-Saharan Africa. (Source: World Food Programme)



Hotter temperatures from climate change are expected to reduce catches of the world’s main fish species by 40 percent. (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States)



Agricultural production must rise by about 60% by 2050 in order to feed a larger population.  Climate change is putting this objective at risk (Source: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United States)




Source: Wikipedia - Food Security  |  Food Security Facts




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Fact of the Day - HOPE CHEST


Renaissance hope chest (cassone) from

Florence (15th century)


Did you know.... that a hope chest, also called dowry chest, cedar chest, trousseau chest or glory box is a piece of furniture traditionally used to collect items such as clothing and household linen, by unmarried young women in anticipation of married life. The term "hope chest" or "cedar chest" is used in the midwest or south of the United States; in the United Kingdom, the term is "bottom drawer"; while both terms, and "glory box" are used by women in Australia. (Wikipedia)


Unveiling the History Behind the Tradition of Hope Chests
Think of hope chests and the popular models made by Lane Co. comes to mind. But, the fact is, this tradition is actually several centuries old.

by Historyplex




Did You Know?
The Lane Co. was once the largest manufacturer of hope chests in the US, having produced 12 million chests between 1912 and 1987.


Hope chests are an ancient tradition to prepare a girl for her future as a wife. These wooden chests are also known by other names, like glory boxes, dowry chests, trousseau, and cedar chests, though they got their most popular name because of the ‘hope’ that they provided to unmarried girls for a good future. The contents of a traditional hope chest included handicraft linen, bed-covers, blankets, towels, essential items like oil lamps, dishes, and candlesticks, and even dresses for special occasions. While their conventional structure is a wooden box with a hinged lid, some models also had drawers to maximize their storing capacity. Let’s check out the history behind the glorious hope chest tradition.



Amish Rustic Log Hope Chest



The ancient Egyptians, during the age of the pharaohs, were the first ones to use cedar chests for storing precious jewels, and even papyrus scrolls (primitive paper), to prevent them from getting moist. These chests were carved from a single block of wood, and lasted for hundreds of years.



Egyptian Hope Chest


In Medieval Europe, it was considered the duty of a suitor to provide land, and material comforts to his would-be wife. In return, the bride’s family provided their daughter with items of daily necessity, including expensive stuff like dishes, silverware, and furniture, along with animals, as dowry.


Poorer families who couldn’t afford such an expensive dowry, instead taught their daughters skills like knitting, sewing, crocheting, and embroidery, since an early age. The father usually built her a wooden chest, and spent hours decorating it with artwork and wooden mosaics. Using her handcrafting skills, an ordinary girl was able to stock this chest with linen, blankets, napkins, towels, and other textile items which she had made herself, or received as a gift from her parents, friends, or relatives. These handcrafted items were regarded as proof of a girl’s skillful and industrious nature; qualities which would get her a good husband.



Medieval Hope Chest


The idea behind these wooden chests was to provide the newly-married couple with the basic necessities for their daily life. An industrious wife was considered as an asset, and this chest also helped girls pick up essential skills like sewing and embroidery at an early age, which were required later in life.


Renaissance Era
Hope chests reached their peak of popularity during the Renaissance in Europe. This period saw the rise of different styles of chests in various kingdoms. A popular style of hope chest was the Italian ‘Cassone’, which was ornately decorated to advertise the status of a girl’s family to potential suitors. It was usually stocked with valuables like dishes, linen, and clothing gifted by the bride’s family, and later even those items gifted by the groom’s family was kept in it. This chest was kept hidden in a secure place to prevent it being stolen by invading enemies.



Italian Cassone


During the same time in Germany, it was customary for a man wooing a girl to gift her a wooden chest, called a ‘Minnekästchen’, which bore designs depicting his interest in her. These chests were used for storing gifts, such as jewelry and notes from the suitor.



German Minnekästchen


European Settlement in America

The hope chest reached the Americas with the large-scale emigration of Europeans from kingdoms such as Great Britain, Scandinavia, and Germany, beginning in the 18th century. This journey across the oceans was long and tedious, and many families packed all their belongings in a single wooden chest. These chests were later used to store blankets and clothing, as a bench since chairs were a luxury in those times, and at times even as a bed. By the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, hope chests had become a common tradition among low and middle-class girls too in the United States. Most of the production of hope chests was centered around the region of New England.





Recent History

The tradition of hope chests began to decline in the US after the early 20th century. The First World War changed all that. When World War I began in 1914, Virginia-based Lane Furniture Company received a profitable contract from the government to manufacture pine chests to store military ammunition.




Immediately after the war, the company diversified its operations to produce cedar boxes for domestic use, which had a reviving effect on the custom of hope chests. Later, during the 1930s, the company began offering free, miniature hope chests to girls graduating out of high school, hoping that they would buy the larger versions which were much costlier.



Lane graduation box


During the Second World War, the company tried to attract American GIs, saying that hope chests were the perfect gift for the time they spent away from their wives or girlfriends. Thus, in a few decades, Lane Co. had rewritten the entire history of hope chests in the United States.


Despite its illustrious past, this tradition waned after the Second World War. This era saw the rise of feminism, as, for the first time, women had stepped out into the workforce during the war to fill in the void created by men leaving to fight on foreign shores. While most hope chests in modern homes are family heirlooms relegated to storing old blankets, this tradition is seeing a gradual revival by supporters of healthy Christian traditions.




Source: Wikipedia - Hope Chest  |  History Behind Traditions of Hope Chests

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Fact of the Day - BARBARY PIRATES


Ottoman admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa


Did you know.... that the Barbary pirates, or Barbary corsairs or Ottoman corsairs, were Muslim pirates and privateers who operated from North Africa, based primarily in the ports of Salé, Rabat, Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli. This area was known in Europe as the Barbary Coast, in reference to the Berbers. Their predation extended throughout the Mediterranean, south along West Africa's Atlantic seaboard and into the North Atlantic as far north as Iceland, but they primarily operated in the western Mediterranean. In addition to seizing merchant ships, they engaged in Razzias, raids on European coastal towns and villages, mainly in Italy, France, Spain, and Portugal, but also in the British Isles, the Netherlands, and Iceland.[2] The main purpose of their attacks was slaves for the Ottoman slave trade as well as the general Arab slavery market in North Africa and the Middle East. Slaves in Barbary could be of many ethnicities, and of many different religions, such as Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. (Wikipedia)


This 16th-century corsair was the most feared pirate of the Mediterranean
No Spanish ships or ports were safe when dreaded pirate Barbarossa, ally of the powerful Ottoman Empire, sailed the high seas.



Hayreddin’s brother Oruç was the first to be known as Barbarossa. His nickname

was “Father Oruç,” Baba Oruç, which the Italians took to mean barba rossa,

or red beard, for Oruç did indeed have a red beard. Hayreddin inherited the

nickname even though his hair was golden brown. López de Gómara, a Spanish

chronicler, described Barbarossa: “He was of a cheerful disposition when he did

not grow fat; he had very long eyelashes, and his sight became very poor.

He lisped, could speak many languages, and was very cruel, exceedingly greedy,

and very luxurious in both senses.”


From his base in Algiers, North Africa, Hayreddin Barbarossa terrorized the western Mediterranean in the first half of the 16th century. He fearlessly hijacked ships and sacked ports, loading his pirate galleys with vast hoards of treasure and prisoners fated for slavery. Yet Barbarossa was much more than a soldier of fortune. He was a skilled warrior with a political instinct that led him to found a prosperous kingdom, allied with the Islamic empire of the Ottoman Turks, and actively defy one of Christian Europe’s most powerful monarchs, the Spanish emperor Charles V.


Brothers in piracy
Barbarossa had modest beginnings. He was born on the Greek island of Lesbos, the son of a Christian renegade who had joined the Ottoman army. Oruç, Barbarossa’s elder brother, was the first to take to the sea in search of adventure. It is unclear whether Oruç joined the powerful Ottoman navy or a merchant vessel, but in 1503 his ship was attacked and captured by the Knights Hospitaller, a Christian military order then based on the island of Rhodes, in present-day Greece. Oruç spent two terrible years as a galley slave on one of the knights’ ships but eventually managed to escape. Reunited with his brother, they settled on the island of Djerba, off the coast of Tunisia. The place was a veritable den of corsairs, and they enthusiastically joined their ranks. (Explore the remnants of Blackbeard's pirate ship discovered off the coast of North America.)



The fort of Bizerte, in Tunisia, fell to Barbarossa in 1534 but

surrendered to the Spanish the following year.


The brothers found they had a talent for piracy. Their attacks on Christian ships, especially Spanish ones, brought them huge amounts of loot and attracted the attention of the emir of Algiers, with whom they joined forces. Soon they commanded a fleet of about a dozen ships, which they used to launch daring attacks on Spanish strongholds in North Africa. It was while attacking one of these that Oruç lost an arm to a shot from an early musket called a arquebus.


A pirate haven
Oruç had begun to dream of becoming more than a mere pirate: he wanted to rule his own North African kingdom. His chance came in 1516, when the emir of Algiers requested his help in expelling Spanish soldiers from the neighboring Peñón of Algiers, a small island fortress. Not a man to miss an opportunity, Oruç established his rule in the city of Algiers, disposing of the emir, who was apparently drowned while having his daily bath. Oruç then had himself proclaimed sultan, to the joy of his brother and a growing army of supporters.


Oruç swiftly moved on to capture the Algerian cities of Ténès and Tlemcen, creating for himself a powerful North African kingdom that threatened and defied the authority of King Charles, just a short sail away in Spain. The Spanish reaction was not slow in coming. In 1518 a fleet set out from the Spanish-controlled port of Oran and soldiers stormed Tlemcen. Oruç fled, only to be found hiding in a goat pen, where a Spanish soldier first lanced him and then beheaded him.


Rise of Barbarossa
In Algiers Barbarossa took over as leader. In the face of renewed Spanish pressure Barbarossa showed his political cunning and sought help from Süleyman the Magnificent, the Islamic sultan of the vast Ottoman Empire centered in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul, Turkey). Süleyman sent him 2,000 janissaries, the elite of the Ottoman army. In exchange, Algiers became a new Ottoman sanjak, or district, which allowed Barbarossa to carry on his piracy while conquering additional strongholds. Nevertheless, the main threat remained right on his doorstep: the Spanish still occupied the Peñón of Algiers. In 1529 he bombarded the garrison into surrender before beating its commander to death.



In 1534 Barbarossa launched an attack on Fondi, near Naples.

His goal: to capture Giulia Gonzaga, a young widow of legendary

beauty and carry her off to Süleyman’s harem. A traitor led 2,000

Turks to Giulia’s home, from which, according to legend, she’d only

just escaped, riding through the night on horseback.


Barbarossa’s fame spread throughout the Muslim world. Experienced corsairs, such as Sinan the Jew and Ali Caraman, came to Algiers, drawn by the prospects of making their fortunes. But Barbarossa fought for politics as well as piracy. When Charles V’s great Genovese admiral Andrea Doria captured ports in Ottoman Greece, Süleyman summoned Barbarossa, who quickly answered the call. To impress the sultan, he loaded his ships with luxurious gifts: tigers, lions, camels, silk, cloth of gold, silver, and gold cups, and 200 enslaved women for the harem in Istanbul. Süleyman was delighted and made Barbarossa admiral in chief of the Ottoman fleet.


Barbarossa now commanded over a hundred galleys and galliots, or half galleys, and started a strong naval campaign all around the Mediterranean. After reconquering the Greek ports, Barbarossa’s fleet terrorized the Italian coast. Near Naples, Barbarossa and his men attempted to capture the beautiful Countess Giulia Gonzaga, who only narrowly escaped. Barbarossa even threatened Rome, where a dying Pope Clement VII was abandoned by his cardinals, who fled after plundering the papal treasury. However, these raids were just part of a bigger strategy, a diversion to distract from Barbarossa’s true goal, Tunis. It worked; he took the port by surprise in 1534.



A model of a Maltese design typical of the

16th century, the last great era of the war

galley in the Mediterranean Sea.


Barbarossa’s revenge
However, Barbarossa’s success was brief. The following year Charles V sent a mighty military expedition that managed to recapture Tunis after a week-long siege punctuated with bloody battles. Back in Algiers, Barbarossa was undaunted and out for revenge. He sailed to the western Mediterranean, and on approaching the Spanish island of Minorca his ships hoisted flags captured from Spain’s fleet the year before. The ruse allowed him to enter the port unmolested. When the meager garrison realized the deception, they attempted a defense, but surrendered a few days later on the promise that lives and property would be spared. Barbarossa broke this promise and sacked the city anyway, taking hundreds of people to sell into slavery.



Barbarossa's fleet at the allied French

port of Toulon in 1543. This contemporary

miniature was painted by the famed artist

Matrakçi Nasuh.


During the next few years Barbarossa, now commanding 150 ships, raided all along the Christian coastline of the Mediterranean. In 1538, cornered in the Ottoman port of Preveza, Greece, he defeated a stronger fleet commanded by Andrea Doria. In 1541 he also repelled the great expedition Charles V personally led against Algiers.


A Muslim hero
Barbarossa headed from Italy to the French ports of Marseille and Toulon. He was welcomed with every honour, as France and the Ottoman Empire had formed an alliance, united by their rivalry with Charles V. From France, some of Barbarossa’s ships sailed along the Spanish coast sacking towns and cities.


In 1545 Barbarossa finally retired to Istanbul, where he spent the last year of his life, peacefully dictating his memoirs. He died on July 4, 1546, and was buried in Istanbul in the Barbaros Türbesi, the mausoleum of Barbarossa. The tomb was built by the celebrated Mimar Sinan. It still stands in the modern district of Besiktas, on the European bank of the Bosporus. For many years no Turkish ship left Istanbul without making an honorary salute to the grave of the country’s most feared sailor, whose epitaph reads: “[This is the tomb] of the conqueror of Algiers and of Tunis, the fervent Islam soldier of God, the Capudan Khair-ed-Deen [Barbarossa,] upon whom may the protection of God repose.”


Source: Wikipedia - Barbary Pirates  |  History and Civilization - Dreaded Pirate Barbarosssa

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Fact of the Day - EARTH DAY


The unofficial Earth Day Flag created by

John McConnell includes The Blue Marble

photograph taken by the crew of Apollo 17


Did you know... that Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. First held on April 22, 1970, it now includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EARTHDAY.ORG including 1 billion people in more than 193 countries. (Wikipedia)


Fascinating Facts About Earth Day
BY MATT STOFSKY  |  APRIL 22, 2017  |  (UPDATED: APRIL 20, 2020)


There are countless demonstrations and gatherings

worldwide on Earth Day. Pictured above is a public

art piece that was displayed in Washington, D.C. in 2008.


Every year on April 22, trees are planted, litter is cleaned up, and awareness for the issues plaguing the planet are raised. In honor of the holiday, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020, we’ve gathered together 10 fascinating facts about Earth Day.




Gaylord Nelson speaks at an Earth Day event in 2003.

Senator Gaylord Nelson arrived in Washington in 1963 looking to make the fledgling conservation movement—sparked in part by Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring, which warned against the harmful effects of widespread pesticide usage—a part of the national discourse. After witnessing the aftermath of an oil spill in California in 1969, Nelson doubled down on his commitment to raising environmental awareness. Drawing inspiration from the energetic anti-war movement of the time, he enlisted support from both sides of the political spectrum, and on April 22, 1970, Earth Day was born.


In 1963, Gaylord Nelson proposed a "conservation tour" to Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and Arthur Schlesinger, a member of President Kennedy’s "Best and Brightest" cabinet. Schlesinger privately endorsed the idea to the president, while Nelson wrote a direct memo to Kennedy, a bold move for a freshman senator from Wisconsin. Kennedy, however, was incredibly receptive, and on September 24, 1963, JFK embarked on a conservation-themed multi-state tour. The president, accompanied by Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Secretary of Agriculture Orville Freeman, as well as Nelson and a few additional senators, visited 11 states in five days. Nelson was disappointed in the president’s speeches, saying they "didn’t have much sweep or drama to them." In addition, members of the press ignored environmental issues and instead focused their questions on the tense nuclear situation with the Soviet Union. It would be another seven years until Earth Day became a reality.




Crowds gather in Union Square in New York City for

the first Earth Day in 1970.


The first Earth Day marked a strange combination of boisterous rallies and sober reflection on the state of the planet. Protests, demonstrations, fundraisers, nature walks, speeches, concerts, and every sort of civic gathering imaginable took place at colleges, VFW halls, public squares, and parks across the United States on April 22, 1970. Environmental crusaders found themselves thrust into the limelight, and pop culture icons like poet Allen Ginsberg were asked to speak on behalf of Mother Earth. Some of the more colorful displays of the day included mock trials for polluting objects, like an old Chevrolet, which was sentenced to death by sledgehammer. (The car ultimately survived the beating and was donated to an art class.) In New York City, Earth Day celebrations effectively shut down parts of the city. Twenty-thousand people packed into Union Square to see Paul Newman and hear a speech by Mayor John Lindsay, who arrived on an electric bus.


To head up the Earth Day project, Senator Nelson enlisted Denis Hayes, then a graduate student at Harvard University. As national coordinator, Hayes recruited a staff of 85 energetic young environmental crusaders and grassroots organizers, along with thousands of field volunteers, in order to promote the fledgling holiday across the nation. The team knew that in order to gain the most traction, college students would need to play a central role, as they did in the Vietnam protests of the era. The date that Hayes selected for the first Earth Day was a calculated choice: April 22 on most college campuses falls right between Spring Break and final exams.




President Richard Nixon and his wife,

Pat, plant a tree on the White House

lawn during the first Earth Day.


According to Grist, the first Earth Day faced staunch opposition from conservative groups like the John Birch Society, which claimed that the event was a thinly veiled attempt to honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin. In addition to detractors on the far right of the political spectrum, bleeding-heart environmental crusaders weren’t satisfied, either. Earth Day, they claimed, simply served as a distraction from the more pressing social issues of the day. Journalist I.F. Stone said, "The country is slipping into a wider war in Southeast Asia and we’re sitting here talking about litterbugs." Critics of the holiday also point to the trend of "greenwashing," an attempt by corporations with poor environmental track records to appear conscientious if only once a year.


With bipartisan support in Congress and thousands of civic demonstrations across the country, support for environmental reform in 1970 was undeniable. According to the EPA, "Public opinion polls indicate that a permanent change in national priorities followed Earth Day 1970. When polled in May 1971, 25 percent of the U.S. public declared protecting the environment to be an important goal, a 2500 percent increase over 1969." The 1970s saw the passage of the most comprehensive environmental legislation in U.S. history, including the Clean Air Act, the Water Quality Improvement Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act. In addition, just eight months after the first Earth Day, Richard Nixon approved the creation of a new organization tasked with monitoring the nation’s natural assets: the Environmental Protection Agency.


In 1990, Earth Day expanded to include countries and peoples across the globe, with 200 million people in 141 nations getting involved. A decade later, at the turn of the new millennium, Earth Day shed light on the emerging Clean Energy movement and expanded its reach, spreading to 184 countries with the help of 5000 environmental organizations. Global activities included a massive traveling drum chain in Gabon, Africa, and an unprecedented gathering of hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. According to Earth Day Network, after 40 years, more than 1 billion people participate in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.


Earth Day is now observed around the world, albeit under a different name: In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly decided to designate April 22 as International Mother Earth Day. The symbol of Mother Earth serves as a common metaphor and representation of our planet in many countries and cultures. In the United States, the holiday is still commonly referred to as Earth Day.




Most of Roosa's original "Moon Trees"

were planted in time for the U.S. Bicentennial

in 1976.


During the Apollo 14 moon mission in 1971, astronaut Stuart Roosa brought with him hundreds of tree seeds including Loblolly Pine, Sycamore, Sweetgum, Redwood, and Douglas Fir. Roosa was a former smokejumper for the U.S. Forest Service, and he transported the seeds in his personal effects as a tribute to his former employer. Roosa and his seeds orbited the Moon 34 times in the command module Kitty Hawk. Scientists were curious whether or not exposure to the microgravity of space would impact the growth of these seeds when returned to Earth. The experiment seemed like a lost cause when, during the post-mission decontamination process, the seed canisters broke open and the seeds were thought to be useless. However, most of the tree seeds were still fit for germination and were successfully planted and cultivated. These trees were planted around National Monuments, as well as in sites all over the world. After decades of growing side-by-side with their Earth cousins, the Moon Trees showed no differences at all. On Earth Day 2009, NASA, in partnership with the United States National Arboretum and American Forests, planted a second generation Moon Sycamore on the arboretum’s grounds in Washington, D.C.


Every year since Earth Day 2016, there has been a new theme attached to the holiday in anticipation for its 50th anniversary in 2020. In 2016, it was Trees for the Earth, followed by Environmental and Climate Literacy in 2017, End Plastic Pollution in 2018, and Protect Our Species in 2019. For 2020, organizers went with an obvious campaign: Climate Action. Organizers are hopeful that this will be a day to raise awareness of both the dangers of climate change and the opportunities people have to make a difference in the fight. And despite the social distancing necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, demonstrations and conferences are still happening, albeit virtually. Head to the Earth Day 2020 website find out more.


This story originally ran in 2016.


Source: Wikipedia - Earth Day  |  Facts About Earth Day

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Fact of the Day - METAPHOR


A political cartoon by illustrator S.D. Ehrhart in an

1894 Puck magazine shows a farm woman labeled

"Democratic Party" sheltering from a tornado of

political change.


Did you know.... that a metaphor is a figure of speech that, for rhetorical effect, directly refers to one thing by mentioning another. It may provide clarity or identify hidden similarities between two different ideas. Metaphors are often compared with other types of figurative language, such as antithesis, hyperbole, metonymy and simile.  One of the most commonly cited examples of a metaphor in English literature comes from the "All the world's a stage" monologue from As You Like It:


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances ...

William Shakespeare, As You Like It, 2/7 (Wikipedia)


Things You Should Know About Metaphor
TERRIBLEMINDS  |  August 14, 2012




A metaphor is a little bit of writing magic that allows you, the writer, to draw an unexpected line between two unlike things. You are comparing and connecting things that have no business being compared or connected. How is a wasp like an auto mechanic? A banana like a storm cloud? How do you talk about a nuclear winter while evoking a beautiful symphony? The metaphor is the writer holding up one thing (“a double-headed dildo”) and asking — nay, demanding — that the reader think of something else (“a floppy slice of freshly-baked zucchini bread”). It is a subversion of expectation; a sabotage of imagery. Metaphor is metamorphosis. You can tell that’s true because they both have “meta” and “pho.” Or something.


A metaphor fails if it’s obvious. Comparing two alike things is meaningless in terms of providing engagement and enlightenment to the audience. “That horse is like a donkey” simply isn’t meaningful. We already know that. We describe the things that need describing. You wouldn’t say, “This double-headed dildo is like a single-headed dildo” and call that a metaphor. All you’re doing there is thwacking the audience about the head and neck with your +5 Double-Headed Dildo of Obviousness.


Further, a metaphor is not to be taken literally. “A snake is like a worm” is literally true, and thus fails as a metaphor. Metaphors operate best as purely figurative. Life is not literally a bowl of cherries. The power of metaphor is in its ability to transcend the real; in this way, metaphor is like an artsy-fartsy version of sarcasm. It is a beautiful lie. I say one thing, but I mean another.




A simile uses like or as to connect things; a metaphor eschews both words. Simile: “My love for you is like old lunchmeat. Still here, but way past its expiration date.” Metaphor: “My love for you is a zombie. Dead but still walking around.” The simile creates a little distance; this is like that. Not same, but similar. A metaphor undercuts that distance. This is that. Not just similar, but absolutely (though abstractly) the same.


Metaphors and symbols are not the same thing. A metaphor is stated outright. I say it. I write it. I don’t hide from it. When I say that “her vagina is like the blown-out elastic in a pair of old underpants,” or, “his dick is like soft serve,” I’m not trying to hide what I think or feel. I’m shoving the imagery right into your eyeholes. A symbol is far cagier, far more guarded. A character who symbolizes something (sin, colonialism, addiction, zoo-keepers, reality television) does so in an unspoken way. The author never takes the time to complete that picture. A metaphor draws the line between two unlike things. The symbol never draws the line — it just casually gestures in the direction of the other thing, hoping you’ll connect the dots yourself.


A metaphor that kicks open the door to its cage and runs around a little before being put down is an extended metaphor, or a “conceit.” It refuses to be kept to a single iteration, and will get its roots and shoots all up into the paragraph where it initially appeared. The metaphor continues — it’s not enough to say that “urban development is like a cancer” and leave it at that. The metaphor grows and swells, blister-like, using the whole paragraph to explore the metaphor to its fullest: gentrification is metastasis, developers are like free radicals, rich guys like tumors, and so on and so forth.




Err on the side of simplicity rather than complexity. The weightier and more Byzantine a metaphor becomes, the more likely that it becomes unstable, untenable, overwrought. When I say, “John’s a dinosaur,” the message is clear: he’s old-school, probably too old-school, and if he’s not careful he’s going to get face-punched by a meteor. But I don’t need to say all those things. I don’t need to beat the metaphor into the ground until it’s a pulpy, shitty mess; it’s not a watermelon, and I’m not Gallagher. The audience wants to do work. They want to take the metaphor and help draw the line. Hand them a simple machine, not a Rube Goldberg device.


Some metaphors are implied. When you say, “Gary’s coming for you, Bill — that guy can smell blood in the water from a mile away,” we’re using a metaphor to imply that Gary is a shark, but without actually saying that he’s a shark. The power here is in letting the audience bring a little something to the table. The danger here is you reach too far and fail to make the implication click.


Some metaphors just don’t work. You maybe think they do, because in your head you’ve drawn a line that makes sense to you and… well, nobody else. The reader’s sitting there, scratching his head, wondering just what the hell a blue heron has to do with a head cold and what happens is, it stops the reader dead. Every component of your writing is binary — it’s either a 1 or a 0, it’s either Go, Dog, Go, or Guy Running Full Speed Into A Tree. It’s lubricant (facilitates the reader reading), or a fist (forces the reader to stop). A broken metaphor asks the reader to stand over the confounding imagery, chewing on it the way one must jaw hard on a hunk of gristly steak. Make sure you’re not putting out metaphors that are clear to you and only you. Think of the reader, not of the writer.




If I wanted to mix metaphors, I might take that love/lunchmeat/zombie metaphor and smoosh those together: “My love is like a zombie — it’s dead and walking around long past its expiration date.” It’s mixed because it’s in effect creating a metaphor within a metaphor: love is like a zombie, and a zombie is kind of like lunchmeat in that it has an expiration date even though human bodies and zombies don’t usually have expiration dates and love isn’t really a zombie and besides, zombies aren’t real anyway. So, it’s asking the reader to draw the line and say “love = zombie, but zombie = lunchmeat.” It’s not the worst mixed metaphor ever (as one could suggest that a person’s date of death is his ‘expiration date’). You can, of course, get a whole lot worse — the worst ones build off clichés (“Don’t look in the mouth of a upset gift horse of another color before the apple cart or… s… something.”)


Let me define for you: “Kick-stab.” It means I duct tape a diver’s knife to the bottom of my boot, and then I focus all of my chi (or: “ki”) into my kick as I drive my knife-boot into your chest so hard it explodes your heart and fires your ragdoll body through a plate glass window that wasn’t even there before but the force of the kick was so profound it conjured the window from another universe. All this because you had to go and use a cliché. Clichés are lowest common denominator writing and serve as metaphors for unimaginative, unoriginal turd-witted slug-brains. KIYAAAKAPOW *kick* *stab* *krrsssh*


Ew, no, not like that. No, what I mean is: metaphors represent an authorial stamp. They’re yours alone, offering us a peek inside your mind. When a reader says, “I would have never thought to compare a sea squirt to the economic revolution of Iceland,” that’s a golden moment. The metaphor is a signature, a stunt, a trick, a bit of your DNA spattered on the page.




Look at it another way: a sky is a sky is a sky. But when we cast against the sky a chemical haze or the ejecta from a volcanic eruption, it’s like a giant Instagram filter — it changes the sky and gives us heavenward vistas and sunsets or sunrises that are cranked up on good drugs, revealing to us unearthly beauty we never expected to see. The haze or the ejecta are entirely artificial — applied to the sky, not part of the original equation — but it doesn’t matter. That’s metaphor. Metaphor is the filter; it’s a way to elevate the written word (and the world the word explores) to something unexpected, something unseen. Metaphors are always artificial. But that fails to diminish their magic.


Metaphors do not merely carry tone; they can lend it to a story. The metaphors you choose can capably create mood out of the raw nothing of narrative — a metaphor can be icky, depressing, uplifting, funny, weird, all creating moods that are (wait for it, wait for it), icky, depressing, uplifting, funny, or weird. A metaphor is a mood stamp. A tonal injector. Consistency in the tone of your metaphors is therefore key.


A metaphor used to describe a character tells us more about the character than a mere physical description — saying a character is gawky is one thing, but then saying he “walks like a chicken with a urinary tract infection” paints for us a far more distinctive and telling portrait. Evoking those things (the chicken, the yellow of urine), suggests cowardice. 




Metaphor is part of description and we use description when something in the story breaks the status quo — when it violates expectation and so the audience must have a clear picture of it. You don’t talk about every tree in the forest; you describe that one tree that looks different, the twisted old shillelagh where the character’s brother hanged himself. Metaphor operates the same way: you use a metaphor when you want us to know something new, something different. It’s you pointing us to a thing to say, this thing matters.


Metaphors aren’t just some shit writers invented so they can strut about like pretty purple peacocks. It’s not just a stunt. Metaphors are part of our brains — not just writer’s brains (which are basically rooms where armed chimpanzees force drunken dogs to chase meth-addled cats all day long), but the brains of all humans. Here’s the cool thing about metaphors: our minds know the difference between the real and the metaphorical, and yet, our brains respond to metaphors often the same way they would to reality. You call someone a “dirty bastard,” and our brain pulls the chemical triggers that make us think of, or even feel, a moment’s worth of uncleanliness. How bad-ass is that? THE BRAIN BE STRAIGHT TRIPPIN’, BOO. (Article: “This Is Your Brain On Metaphors.”)


Another awesome thing the brain does with metaphors? We’re sitting there, reading, right? And the part of our brain that’s active is the part associated with reading and language. Ahh, but when we encounter a metaphor, our brain short-circuits and leaves that area — it freaks out for a moment, and kung-fu kicks open the door and runs to the area of the brain more appropriate to the sense triggered in the metaphor. In describing a smell or a touch, the brain goes to those areas and highlights that part of your skull’s mental meatloaf. Example: words describing motion highlight your motor cortex. What this means is supremely bad-ass: it means that good description and powerful metaphor are real as real gets. They trick our brain into a reality response! Stupid brains! Ha ha ha! I just fooled you with words! (Article: “The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction.”)




This tells us then that metaphors should use all senses, not just the visual. Mmkay? Mmkay.


You can stimulate metaphorical thinking. At the simplest level, just make a concerted effort. Walk around, look at things, feel them, smell them, try to envision what those things remind you of — a summer’s day, a calculator watch, a used condom, a wicker basket heavy with roadkill, James Franco. Take one thing and then ask, how is it like another? Find the traits they share, both literal and abstract (hint: it’s the abstract ones that really matter). You can also force such stimulation: sleep or sensory deprivation will do it. So too will the right amount of al-kee-hol (not too much, but not too little, either). Probably the biggest category of “metaphorical stimulator” comes from hallucinogens, which are illegal and you should never do them. BUT IF YOU DO NEGLECT MY ADVICE AND WOLF DOWN A PALM FULL OF FUNNY MUSHROOMS AGAINST MY DOCTORIAL PROHIBITION, you’ll find that your brain makes crazy leaps between things — the very nature of hallucinations is due to the powerful tangling of sensory neurotransmitters (note: not a brainologist). Hallucination is metaphor; metaphor is hallucination.


Another critical way to train your brain to love the metaphor: read poetry. Lots and lots of it. Old and new from every geographic region. Then: write it. Poetry is often a doorway to a metaphorical wonderland. You know what else is a doorway to a metaphorical wonderland? Churros. Mmm. Churros.




I want to point this out because, well, me and profanity? We’re buds. We’re bros. We’re in the Fuck Yeah Sisterhood. We went to space camp together and sold Girl Scout Cookies together and lost our virginities togeth… you know, we don’t need to keep talking about that. What I’m saying is, when I say, “Dave is a shithead,” I don’t mean he’s actually got a literal pile of feces roosting on his shoulders. When I say, “Fuck you” in anger, I don’t mean I actually want to fornicate with you. (I mean, probably.) Profanity is abstraction. It’s dirty, filthy, gooey abstraction. And it is wonderful.


Don’t overuse metaphor. Every paragraph can’t be a metaphor for another thing — sometimes you just have to say the thing that you want to say without throwing heaps and mounds of abstraction on top of it.


No, wait, sorry, I mean, “Practice makes perfect.” Silly me! If you’re not particularly comfortable with metaphors, if they make your throat tight and your body tense and cause you to pee two, maybe three drops of scaredy-urine into your Supergirl underoos, you merely need to practice. Sit down. Write metaphors. Let your brain off its chain and see what it comes up with. Write a whole page — hell, a whole fucking book — of the damn things. Nobody’s reading these. No pressure. Care little. Just write.


Narrative can, at the basic level, exist in a way where it tells us what has happened or is happening. Right? It serves as a simple explanation, the story being the literal actions taken and words spoken. John went to the grocery store. There he saw Mary. John and Mary kissed by the cantaloupes. John said, “I love you.” Mary Tasered him in the nipples. John died. Mary took his shoes. Whatever. But our storytelling can have levels that go above and below our words, that exist outside the literal flow of events and dialogue spoken. We have subtext. We have authorial intent. We have theme and symbol. And, drum roll please, we have metaphor. Metaphor elevates our narrative. Subtext is an invisible layer but metaphor is very visible, indeed: with metaphor we’re adding new colors to the sensory and experiential wavelength. This is why we use metaphor: to elevate storytelling to more than just the story told.


Source: Wikipedia - Metaphor  |  Facts About Metaphors

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Fact of the Day  - No. 2 CONTRUCTION BATTALION


Did you know.... that the No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF), was raised in Nova Scotia and was one of two predominantly black battalions in Canadian military history and the only Canadian battalion composed of black soldiers to serve in World War I. Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel D.H. Sutherland, formerly of the 193rd Battalion, CEF, all but one of the unit's 19 officers were white, the exception being Captain William A. White, the unit's Chaplain. (Wikipedia)


Canada’s WWI all-Black Military Battalion

by Lindsay Ruck  |  Published Online June 16, 2016  |  Last Edited April 16, 2021


The No. 2 Construction Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) — also known as the Black Battalion — was authorized on 5 July 1916, during the First World War. It was a segregated non-combatant unit, the first and only all-Black battalion in Canadian military history.



Black Canadians have a long and honourable tradition of patriotism, sacrifice and heroism in the British and Canadian Armed Forces. Following the outbreak of the First World War, Canadians flocked to recruiting stations. From Nova Scotia to British Columbia, hundreds of Black volunteers, eager and willing to serve, were turned away from enlisting in what they were told was a “White man’s war.” The No. 2 Construction Battalion was created after several appeals and protests to top military officials.



No. 2 Construction Battalion


History of Black Canadians in the Armed Forces
Black Canadians have long demonstrated loyalty to king and country by volunteering for military service. During the American Revolution (1775–83), the British Crown encouraged enslaved people to desert their American masters and join the British lines. Eager to escape the shackles of enslavement, thousands heeded the call and worked as labourers for the British, while others worked in combat units. The Black Company of Pioneers, for instance, was raised by the British and based in the American colonies — it served throughout the war (see Black Loyalists; Loyalists).


During the War of 1812, Black soldiers helped defend Upper Canada against American invaders. A number of volunteers in the Niagara region were organized into the Company of Colored Men, who played an integral role in the Battle of Queenston Heights. Many Black soldiers in the War of 1812 were former slaves who escaped to Upper Canada to find freedom.



Black Soldier painting by Robert Marrion


By the 1850s, Black soldiers began receiving military honours for their bravery. William Neilson Hall was one of the first Canadians to be awarded the Victoria Cross — the British Empire’s highest award for valour. Hall, a Black seaman from Horton Bluff, Nova Scotia, risked his life in the relief of Lucknow, India, on 16 November 1857.




William Neilson Hall

In 1860, before the American Civil War, approximately 600 Black people emigrated from California to Canada to escape racial persecution. They would settle in the colony of Vancouver Island. Unpopular with local residents due to the colour of their skin, they were denied the right to join the volunteer fire brigade and decided to organize a volunteer military force. Officially known as the Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps, the all-Black force was the first organized troop in the history of Western Canada.



Victoria Pioneer Rifle Corps


First World War
Although Black men were not altogether welcome in the armed forces, there were those who served in a number of combat units during the First World War. This includes the 106th Battalion, Nova Scotia Rifles, CEF, which was authorized 8 November 1915. Recruits were drawn from Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. As the 106th Battalion began the recruitment process, protest erupted over Black volunteers.


Jeremiah Jones enlisted with the 106th Battalion in 1916, when he was 58 years old (13 years above the age limit). As did many other underage and older enlistees at the time, Jones lied about his age when he signed up. Jones was recommended for a Distinguished Conduct Medal by his commanding officer for his heroic actions during the Battle of Vimy Ridge; however, he did not receive the medal during his lifetime.


Samuel Reese, a Black man from British Guiana living in Truro, was told he would only be accepted to the armed forces if he first recruited a certain number of Black soldiers. At the same time, Reese was referred to Commanding Officer Lieutenant-Colonel W.H. Allen for enlistment in the 106th Battalion. Reese also reached out to Reverend William A. White for assistance. White was pastor of Zion Baptist Church in Truro, and he in turn appealed directly to Allen to assist young Black men with the enlistment process. Reverend White made a verbal agreement to put his efforts into recruiting Black men throughout Nova Scotia.


Reverend William A. White’s daughter Portia was considered one of the best classical singers of the 20th century; her voice was described by one critic as “a gift from heaven.” Portia White was the first Black Canadian concert singer to win international acclaim. She was named a “person of national historic significance” by the Government of Canada in 1995.



Recruitment Poster


In December 1915, the federal government declared that enlistees could not be refused based on their race. This proclamation did not sit well with several white volunteers, who refused to sign up and fight alongside Black soldiers. As there was no official policy for discrimination, recruiting officers were ultimately responsible for selection. Allen felt strongly that a segregated battalion would be the best solution; however, from December 1915 to July 1916, approximately 16 Black volunteers were accepted into the 106th Battalion.

The Black soldiers were dispersed throughout the battalion’s four companies. On 15 July 1916, the battalion left for England aboard the RMS Empress of Britain. As was common practice at the time, the 106th Battalion was broken up to provide reinforcements for front-line battalions that had suffered heavy casualties in France.



Two black soldiers washing their clothing.


Other CEF combat units containing Black volunteers included the 25th Battalion, the 102nd Battalion, the 1st Quebec Regiment and the 116th Battalion. There are a number of battles in which Black Canadians fought, including the Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Battle of Passchendaele (see Curley Christian).


No. 2 Construction Battalion
Two months after the outbreak of the First World War, the first contingent of Canadian troops arrived in Britain. Across Canada, large numbers of Black men were turned away at recruiting stations strictly on the basis of race (see Prejudice and Discrimination).


Many were unwilling to accept this rejection and a battle for the right to fight for one’s country began to take shape. Several Black leaders and white supporters began to question recruiting policies and practices. Concerns were addressed to the highest levels of both the civilian and military authorities. Defence minister Sir Sam Hughes and Major General G.W. Gwatkin received numerous letters requesting an explanation.


After receiving word from Hughes that those who so desired could form a platoon in any battalion, J.R.B. Whitney, Black publisher of the Canadian Observer newspaper in Toronto, offered to create a unit of 150 Black soldiers. Despite rigorous recruitment and great interest from Black volunteers, Whitney quickly discovered that officers stationed at headquarters were not willing to accept the platoon and adamantly ignored Hughes’s memorandum.


The struggle to form a separate platoon went on for two years. Casualties were reaching alarming proportions overseas and there was a lack of reinforcements. The issue of rejecting Black volunteers had reached the floor of the House of Commons, and many were awaiting a satisfactory response.


On 11 May 1916, the British War Office in London called the governor general and expressed its willingness to accept a segregated unit.


The No. 2 Construction Battalion was formally authorized 5 July 1916 as a unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Due to the racial composition of the battalion, it was difficult to find a commander. Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel H. Sutherland, of River John, Pictou County, eventually accepted the position of Commanding Officer.


The battalion was granted special authority to recruit throughout Canada. Nova Scotia provided the largest group, with more than 300 recruits. Enlistments also came from the United States and the British West Indies.


Headquarters for the Black Battalion were first established at the Market Wharf in Pictou, Nova Scotia. On 9 September 1916, headquarters were relocated to Truro, Nova Scotia, as Sutherland felt the presence of a Black community would stimulate recruitment.

Reverend William A. White was appointed chaplain and given the rank of honorary captain. The Williamsburg, Virginia, native was reportedly the only Black officer in the Canadian military at that time.


[Reverend William A. White’s son Bill was a composer and social activist who became the first Black Canadian to run for federal office, representing the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF) in the Toronto constituency of Spadina in 1949. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1970 for “services to the community and his contribution to better relations and understanding between people of different racial background.”]


Despite enthusiasm from hundreds of Black men, there was still great difficulty in recruiting the desired target of approximately 1,000 volunteers. This may be attributed to the rejection and humiliation Black men experienced when previously turned away at recruiting stations; the objection to serving in a segregated non-combatant labour battalion; and the exclusion of Black immigrants, especially in Western Canada.


In December 1916, Sutherland received word from Ottawa that the battalion was needed overseas immediately. Sutherland confirmed that the unit would be ready to depart the last week of February 1917.



Three soldiers in a German dug-out captured

during the Canadian advance east of Arras.


On 29 August 1917, the Canadian government passed the Military Service Act to reinforce depleted troops overseas. With some exceptions, the Act made every British subject between the ages of 20 and 45 who was, or had been, residing in Canada since 4 August 1914 liable for active service.


Black men, who were turned away from enlistment due to the colour of their skin from 1914 to 1916, were now subject to conscription. Those embittered by racism and discrimination refused to respond to this new law. Many of these men were plucked from the streets and held against their will if they would not enlist.



No. 2 Construction Battalion


Forcing Black men to enlist contradicted the exclusion Black men initially faced, and many military authorities still wanted to maintain racial segregation. Despite training as infantry alongside White conscripts in Canada, many Black soldiers were placed in segregated units and assigned to labour duties upon their arrival in England.


Details on the Front
The Black Battalion embarked from Pier 2 in Halifax on 28 March 1917 aboard the SS Southland. Prior to dispatch, a high-ranking officer suggested the battalion be sent overseas on a separate ship without a naval escort to avoid offending fellow passengers. The motion was rejected and the 19 officers and 605 other ranks, along with 3,500 non-Black troops from other units, arrived in Liverpool, England, following a 10-day voyage through submarine-infested waters.



Loading Ammunition

Four members of the Canadian Corps pose

with ammunition before loading it into tramway

cars to be taken up the line. Most black soldiers

who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force

remained segregated in labour units. Few were

allowed to serve in combatant roles.


As a construction unit, the battalion was tasked with non-combat support roles, which included building roads, railway tracks and bridges, defusing land mines to allow troops to move forward, removing the wounded from the battlefield and digging and building trenches.




In early May 1917, orders were received to downgrade the battalion to a company because it had fallen under strength. A battalion is generally comprised of 600 to 800 soldiers, and the battalion had lost a number of men who had fallen ill or lost their lives. The unit proceeded to France and the Swiss border, where it was attached to the Canadian Forestry Corps, CEF, and performed logging operations. The majority of soldiers served at Lajoux in the Jura Mountains, while smaller detachments joined Forestry units at Péronne, a commune of the Somme department in Picardie in northern France, and Alençon, a commune in Normandy, France.


Legacy and Significance




The No. 2 Construction Battalion was officially disbanded on 15 September 1920. Their story represents a group of determined men who fought racism and discrimination at every turn for the basic right to serve one’s country. While most soldiers returned home from war as heroes, the men of the Black Battalion didn’t receive proper recognition until decades later.


On 12 November 1982, Senator Calvin W. Ruck and the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia hosted a recognition and reunion banquet held at the Lord Nelson Hotel in Halifax for nine Black veterans of the First World War. Senator Ruck went on to write The Black Battalion 1916–1920: Canada’s Best-Kept Military Secret (1986), a book that details the story of the No. 2 Construction Battalion and profiles its veterans.


Many veterans of the Black Battalion were buried in Camp Hill Cemetery in Halifax. Each grave was marked by a flat, white stone, forcing visitors to crouch down and grope the grass to find loved ones. In 1997–98, Senator Ruck successfully lobbied the Department of Veterans Affairs, and each soldier received a proper headstone and inscription in 1999.


Other commemorations of the battalion include a permanent monument on Market Wharf in Pictou, an annual commemoration ceremony in Pictou, and an official stamp launched by Canada Post on 1 February 2016 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Black Battalion. In addition, the film Honour Before Glory (2001), written and produced by Reverend William White’s great nephew Anthony Sherwood, and the poem “Black Soldier’s Lament” by George Borden — which has been published in Canadian and American Grade 10 textbooks — tell the story of the No. 2 Construction Battalion.



Members of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, 5 July 1920

The photograph above was taken at the dedication of a plaque in memory of the members of the No. 2 Construction Battalion, an all-Black non-combat battalion that served in the First World War. The plaque was (and is) in the main hall of Queen's Park. Rev. Mrs. H.F. Logan and Rev. H.F. Logan, who spearheaded the campaign for the plaque, are at left of centre. Also included in the photograph are Rt. Rev. Samuel R. Drake, General Superintendent of the British Methodist Episcopal Conference; Ontario Premier Ernest Charles Drury; and Sir Henry Pellatt.


Source: Wikipedia - No. 2 Construction Battalion  |  No. 2 Construction Battalion Facts

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Fact of the Day - FRIENDSHIP


Friendship by Petrona Viera (1895–1960)


Did you know.... that friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. It is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association, and has been studied in academic fields such as communication, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. (Wikipedia)


Fun Facts You Never Knew About Friendship
by Brittney Gibson  |  August 2016


Grab your bestie and hold 'em tight because today, Sunday, August 7, 2016, is Friendship Day.


Kick the bestie celebration into high gear by spending the day with your other half and scrolling through this list of shocking facts you never knew about friendship. 




1. At just 9 months old, most babies understand the concept of friendship. Research shows that babies can recognize and pay attention to the fact that people with similar likes and dislikes tend to be friends. What smarties!




2. Friendship is good for your health. Believe it or not, people with larger networks of friends actually live longer! Having friends can reduce stress and depression and add immensely to your happiness. Isn't it true that you always feel especially cheerful and at ease when you're hanging with your besties?!




3. Get this—in your life, you will have approximately 396 friendships, but only 36 will truly last (that's one in 12). Those 36 that stick around must be pretty special.


4. Love has a direct effect on your friendships. When you gain a boyfriend or girlfriend, you usually displace two other important people in your life (like a bestie or family member…not cool!).




5. Studies have shown that marriages typically last if they are rooted in friendship. D'awww.




6. Did you know that hanging out in a group of friends can make you look more attractive? This is called the cheerleader effect. You and your friends must just look good together! 😏




7. We lose half of the friends in our friend group every seven years. If a friendship lasts over seven years, you will most likely have that friend for life.


8. Animals can have friends, too! Studies have shown that furry creatures can have lifelong friendships with animals outside of their species. Research has demonstrated this is true for chimpanzees, baboons, hyenas, elephants, dolphins, horses, dolphins and even bats. Animal bonds = the strongest bonds.


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9. As odd as it may be, friends tend to have a similar genetic makeup. No wonder you sometimes consider your closest friends to be family!


In honor of Friendship Day, why don't you shower your bestie with some of THESE adorable personalized BFF gifts.



Source: Wikipedia - Friendship  |  Surprising Friendship Facts

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Fact of the Day - BAGPIPES



Did you know... that bagpipes are a woodwind instrument using enclosed reeds fed from a constant reservoir of air in the form of a bag. The Scottish Great Highland bagpipes are the best known examples in the Anglophone world, but people have played bagpipes for centuries throughout large parts of Europe, Anatolia, the Caucasus, Northern Africa, Western Asia, and around the Persian Gulf. The term bagpipe is equally correct in the singular or the plural, though pipers usually refer to the bagpipes as "the pipes", "a set of pipes" or "a stand of pipes". (Wikipedia)


Five things you (probably) didn't know about bagpipes

Andy Letcher  |  29 March 2016




1) There is nothing uniquely Scottish about the bagpipes

Scotland has a proud and venerable tradition of bagpiping, and the Great Highland Bagpipe was taken round the globe by the British Empire. Nevertheless, bagpipes are found right across Europe, North Africa and as far east as India. There are about 130 distinct ‘species’ of bagpipe in the world: France, alone, has eighteen. Although we cannot be certain, bagpipes probably originated in Antiquity in what we now call the Middle East. They have always been associated with shepherds, and their traditional role was in providing music for dancing, especially at weddings. They were the Fender Stratocaster of their day.


2) Bagpipe bags are sometimes made out of animal bladders


The bag of the bagpipes provides a reservoir of air that allows that distinctive, continuous sound to be made. As the player takes a breath, he or she squeezes air out of the bag and so keeps the reeds of both chanter and drone speaking. In Western Europe bags tend to be sewn from a piece of seasoned cowhide, though rubber and Gore-Tex have been used. In Eastern Europe, the Balkans, North Africa, and the Middle East, bagpipe bags are made from whole goat skins, giving the instrument a dramatic, if grisly, appearance. Less commonly, the natural elasticity of animal bladders has been employed on so-called ‘bladder pipes’.


3) The earliest manuscript of bagpipe music in Britain dates from 1733


This manuscript was written down by one William Dixon. Little is known about him, other than that he was Christened in Stamfordham, Northumberland, in 1678, and that he had two sons, Parsivall and John. Many of the forty tunes he notated are still played in the North today, but in his collection they exist as sets of extended variations, probably for dancing. They were designed to be played on Border Bagpipes or some kind of smallpipe. They require a high level of virtuosity.


4) England has bagpipes too!

The fact that there are hundreds of carvings of bagpipers in English churches, dating from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, suggests that bagpipers were once commonplace south of the border, all the way down to Cornwall. There are literary references too: the solution to one 10th Century Anglo-Saxon riddle may be a bagpipe, and Chaucer’s Miller definitely played the pipes on his pilgrimage to Canterbury.


Henry VIII owned five sets of bagpipes, but it seems the Reformation he helped instigate put paid to English piping. The instrument became indelibly associated with rude or lascivious behaviour, and, perhaps, the vernacular festivities of Catholicism. Falling from favour, it was gradually replaced by the more versatile fiddle. The bagpipe only clung on in pockets, such as the North East of England, where Northumbrian pipes are played to this day. There is, however, a vibrant English piping revival underway.


5) 10 March is International Bagpipe Day


International Bagpipe Day was inaugurated by the Bagpipe Society, and is a grassroots celebration of all the world’s bagpipes. Celebrations happen across the UK, but also in Greece, America, Kenya, and even Iran. Pipers of every kind gather, put on concerts, visit schools, play on the streets or for dancing. This ancient instrument, with its bombastic sound and wild associations has, in spite of everything, survived to the modern era. It shows no sign of disappearing!


Andy Letcher is a writer and musician, and Publicity Officer for the Bagpipe Society. He plays English Border Pipes, made by Jon Swayne.


musical instrument

BY The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica



Scottish Highland bagpipe; in the

Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, England.


Bagpipe, wind instrument consisting of two or more single- or double-reed pipes, the reeds being set in motion by wind fed by arm pressure on an animal-skin (or rubberized-cloth) bag. The pipes are held in wooden sockets (stocks) tied into the bag, which is inflated either by the mouth (through a blowpipe with a leather nonreturn valve) or by bellows strapped to the body. Melodies are played on the finger holes of the melody pipe, or chanter, while the remaining pipes, or drones, sound single notes tuned against the chanter by means of extendable joints. The sound is continuous; to articulate the melody and to reiterate notes the piper employs gracing—i.e., rapidly interpolated notes outside the melody, giving an effect of detached notes.


Bagpipes were alluded to in Europe as early as the 9th century; earlier evidence is scarce but includes four Latin and Greek references of about AD 100 and, possibly, an Alexandrian terra-cotta of about 100 BC (at Berlin). In the earliest ones the bag is typically a bladder or a whole sheepskin or goatskin, minus the hindquarters; later, two pieces of skin were cut to shape and sewn together. Bagpipes have always been folk instruments, but after the 15th century some were used for court music, and others have survived as military instruments.


For the chanter, two single-reed cane pipes are placed parallel, one pipe often sounding a drone or other accompaniment to the other pipe. Most have cowhorn bells, being bag versions of hornpipes; they are found in North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Aegean, the Caucasus, and among the Mari of Russia. Other double chanters in eastern Europe (Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine, and elsewhere) are made of a single piece of wood with two cylindrical bores (as in cane pipes) and single reeds of cane or elder. There is also a separate bass drone tuned, like most bass drones, two octaves below the chanter keynote. The Bulgarian gaida and the Czecho-Polish dudy (koza) have a single chanter, and in the dudy, the chanter and drone each carry a huge cowhorn bell.


In western European bagpipes the chanter typically is conically bored and sounded by a double reed; drones are cylindrical with single reeds, as in bagpipes found elsewhere. The Scottish Highland bagpipe has two tenor drones and a bass drone, tuned an octave apart; its scale preserves traditional intervals foreign to European classical music. It was once, like other bagpipes, a pastoral and festive instrument; its military use with drums dates from the 18th century. The Scottish Lowland bagpipe, played from about 1750 to about 1850, was bellows-blown, with three drones in one stock, and had a softer sound. Akin to this were the two-droned bagpipes played up to the 18th century in Germany, the Netherlands, Ireland, and England. The modern two-droned Irish war pipe is a modified Highland bagpipe revived about 1905.


The cornemuse of central France is distinguished by a tenor drone held in the chanter stock beside the chanter. Often bellows-blown and without bass drone, it is characteristically played with the hurdy-gurdy. The Italian zampogna is unique, with two chanters—one for each hand—arranged for playing in harmony, often to accompany a species of bombarde (especially at Christmas); the chanters and two drones are held in one stock, and all have double reeds.



French bagpipes being played.


The bellows-blown musette, fashionable in French society under Louis XIV, had one, later two, cylindrical chanters (the second extending the range upward) and four tunable drones bored in a single cylinder. Partly offshoots of the musette are the British small pipes (c. 1700), of which the Northumbrian small pipe is played today. Its cylindrical chanter, with seven keys, is closed at the bottom, so that when all holes are closed it is silent (thus allowing true articulation and staccato). The four single-reed drones are in one stock and are used three at a time.


A complex instrument of similar date is the bellows-blown Irish union pipe. Its chanter is stopped on the knee both for staccato and to jump the reed to the higher octave, giving this bagpipe a melodic compass of two octaves (in contrast to the more common compass of nine tones). The three drones are held in one stock with three accompanying pipes, or regulators. These resemble the chanter in bore and reeds but are stopped below and have four or five keys that are struck with the edge of the player’s right hand to sound simple chords.


Source: Wikipedia - Bagpipes  |  Facts About Bagpipes  |  Britannica - Bagpipes

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Fact of the Day - BURPING


Did you know.... that burping (also called belching and eructation) is the release of gas from the upper digestive tract (esophagus and stomach) of animals through the mouth. It is usually audible. For humans, burping can be caused by normal eating processes, or as a side effect of other medical conditions. In human cultures, there is a range of levels of social acceptance for burping. In some contexts and cultures, burping is acceptable, while in others it is offensive or unacceptable. Failure to burp can cause pain or other negative effects. Humans are not the only animals that burp: it is very common among other mammals. In particular, burping by domesticated ruminants, such as cows or sheep, is a major contributor of methane emissions which cause climate change. These burps are one of the main negative impacts of animal agriculture on the environment. Significant research is being done to find mitigation strategies for these burps, for example by modifying animals' diets with Asparagopsis taxiformis. (Wikipedia)


Surprising Health Facts About Your Burps That You Must Know

By Chandana Raoon  |  November 17, 2016


Most of us tend to feel rather embarrassed when we burp in public; however, did you know that burps can have certain health significances? Well, here are some facts for you to know. Imagine you are in the middle of a meeting or on a date, and you suddenly let out a loud burp, you unwillingly become the center of attention! Although burping is quite a normal and healthy phenomenon, when it comes to etiquettes, it is considered to be rather rude to let out loud burps! Burping, also known as belching, is the process where the air or gas is released from the stomach and esophagus through our mouths. Belching can be voluntary or involuntary. Belching about 3-4 times, after a meal, is considered to be normal. However, if your burps are too frequent, painful, or if they are coupled with acid reflux, then there is definitely a reason for concern. So, here is a list of health facts on burping that you must know about, have a look.


Fact #1


There is a disorder known as supragastric belching, in which the patients swallow a large amount of air unconsciously that results in frequent belching. Behavioral therapy is used as a treatment for this disorder.


Fact #2


There is another condition known as gastroparesis, where the stomach muscles become paralyzed partially and cannot empty the food completely, resulting in frequent belching.


Fact #3


People can also develop a burping disorder if they have problems with swallowing food due to a sore throat or other ailments related to the throat.



Fact #4


If you notice that your burp has a foul odor to it, it could mean that you are suffering from indigestion, so consult your doctor as soon as possible!


Fact #5


If frequent burping is associated with unexplained weight loss and loss of appetite, it could be a sign of esophageal cancer, as a tumor in the esophagus can also cause belching.


Fact #6


Frequent burping can also be one of the signs of acid reflux; and if left untreated for too long, it could lead to stomach ulcers.




In some cases, people who have had internal stomach surgeries, and have parts of their intestines removed, may not be able to burp at all!


Source: Wikipedia - Burping  |  Health Facts About Burping

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Fact of the Day - PROTHETHIC LIMBS 


Did you know.... that in medicine, a prosthesis or prosthetic implant is an artificial device that replaces a missing body part, which may be lost through trauma, disease, or a condition present at birth. Prostheses are intended to restore the normal functions of the missing body part. (Wikipedia)


Facts About The History Of Prosthetic Limbs



Unlike the gecko and the octopus, humans, unfortunately, can’t regrow lost limbs after they’ve been severed. That’s why prosthesis, artificial limbs, have such a long history in engineering and medicine. From the horrors of war to the devastation of disease, history has provided ample opportunity for innovation. Today, thanks to the imaginations of inventors, amputees have more options than ever before for rehabilitation after such tragic injuries. Here is a list of the most interesting facts in the history of prosthetic technology, from ancient times to the speculations of a distant future.


The Egyptian Toe


A prosthesis’s purpose is to restore the function of the missing limb. So if you were to imagine early prostheses from history, most would imagine an arm or a leg. That’s why it’s so surprising that one of the earliest prosthetic artifacts was for something as innocuous as a toe. A wooden big toe, roughly 3,000 years old, belonged to a noblewoman in ancient Egypt. But why a toe, of all things? If we are talking functionality, our toes are useful for things like balance and stability while we’re walking, and the big toe in particular bears 40 percent of the weight of each step we take. Also, a big toe would have been needed to properly wear traditional ancient Egyptian sandals. However, there is a second use for this type of prosthesis: the aesthetics and wholeness of the individual. We can’t know for sure, but the noblewoman who wore this prosthesis very possibly had it made to feel more at home in her body and gain a sense of normalcy among those around who were not missing the appendage. This sheds light on how prostheses are devices that aid in both the physical and emotional rehabilitation of their wearers.


General Marcus Sergius


Ancient Rome was a civilization known for its many battles and wars, so it stands to reason with all the fighting and maiming that the Romans would have made some contributions to the history of prostheses. General Marcus Sergius and his iron right hand are the stuff of legends. In his second year in the military, Sergius lost his right hand. Whether he made the prosthesis himself is unclear, but eventually, after fighting several battles with only one hand, he acquired a prosthetic hand that was strapped to his arm. The prosthesis was made to hold his shield. The loss never slowed Sergius down. He escaped capture by the enemy twice and freed the cities of Carmona and Placentia from enemy hold. His courage and character show that disability only holds you down as much as you let it.


The Rigveda


The Egyptian toe may have been one of the earliest prostheses found, but the Rigveda is the earliest known document that mentions prostheses. Written between 3500 and 1800 BC in India, part of the document tells the story of the warrior queen Vispali (also spelled “Vispala”). Translated from Sanskrit, it says, “When in the time of night, in Khela’s battle, a leg (caritra) was severed like a wild bird’s pinion, Straight ye gave Vispali a leg of iron that she might move what time the conflict opened.” The Vedas [Hindu for “Knowledge”] have been known to contain references to early practices that reflect how we practice medicine and surgery today. Although the iron leg is not described, it wouldn’t be unwise to suspect that its inclusion in the story references the use of prostheses at that time in history. As a side note, there is some debate on whether Vispali was a human or if she was, strangely enough, a horse. Most scholars assume she was not a horse, but there are a small fraction of people who prefer the horse mythology over the warrior queen. To each their own.


Ambroise Paré



Losing a limb used to be the sort of thing that happened only by some horrible accident (or in battle, of course). Ambroise Pare, a French barber-surgeon, was a pioneer in exploring amputation as a medical procedure, which he introduced in 1529. Pare perfected the surgical procedures to safely remove the limbs of injured soldiers. Pare also pioneered the use of wire or thread to constrict the patient’s blood vessels to keep them from bleeding out while in surgery. Saving some extra skin and muscle during surgery to cover the resulting stump was also one of Pare’s techniques, called “flap amputation.” Pare also developed designs for prosthetic hands and above-the-knee legs. Pare kept a notebook with the designs for all of his prostheses. This included an amusing drawing of a prosthetic nose with a rather distinguished fake mustache.


The US Civil War


It should come as no surprise that the most progress in the development of prostheses came during times of war. It’s estimated that around 30,000 people needed to undergo amputations due to battle injuries during the US Civil War. (Some put the number at 50,000.) With the rise in demand for quality prostheses, a Confederate soldier named James Hanger created the “Hanger Limb.” Hanger became the first Confederate amputee when his left leg was struck by a Union cannonball in the first battle of the Civil War. His leg had to be amputated above the knee, and he was given a wooden leg that he soon found to be inefficient. The Hanger Limb had hinged joints made from metal and barrel staves that made it the most advanced prosthesis of its time. Hanger soon founded a company to distribute his invention.


Dubois D. Parmelee


Around the same time as James Hanger’s prostheses were first designed, there was another inventor making efforts to improve prosthetic technology. Dubois D. Parmelee, a chemist from New York City, was the holder of several patents having to do primarily with rubber. Parmelee’s contribution to prosthetic technology was focused on how the limb was attached to the body. Before Parmelee, prostheses had harnesses and straps that kept the limb in place. Unfortunately, the movement of the prosthesis could rub painfully against the amputee’s stump. Parmelee invented a suction socket that used atmospheric pressure. Prostheses of this nature would have to be custom-made for each amputee to ensure that the shape and volume were perfect. The atmospheric pressure acted as a vacuum, which kept the prosthesis from aggravating the soft tissue of the amputee.


The Artificial Limb & Appliance Service


World War I brought more destruction with even more advanced machinery. With all the fighting on the front lines in the mud and bacteria, infection was widespread. With new veterans, some with several amputations, the costs for custom-made prostheses were sky high. During the war, the British government opened a “Limb Service” to deal with the wounded. This was the beginnings of the Artificial Limb & Appliance Service (ALAS) in Wales. This service would persist and evolve after the war and is still active today. Britain wasn’t the only country to fund veteran and amputee services after the wars; such services would become widespread in many developed countries throughout the 20th century.


Ysidro M. Martinez


The Egyptian toe perfectly demonstrated the need for both form and function in the design for high-quality prostheses. However, prosthetic leg designers often were too focused on replicating the shape of the missing limb. Although the prosthesis would look good, walking with the new leg proved to be clunky and awkward. This all changed when Ysidro M. Martinez, an amputee and inventor in the 1970s, took a more abstract approach. His prostheses were lighter and had a higher center of mass and weight distribution, which reduced friction, balanced gait, and made it easier to speed up and slow down while walking. His invention was only for below-the-knee amputees, but his prostheses proved that such devices could be both functional and stylish, even if they don’t perfectly replicate the appendages that were lost.


3-D Printing


We’ve explored the evolution of design, functionality, and purpose for prostheses, all of which have improved increasingly in modern times. Now, it’s time to consider production. As discussed previously, prosthetic limbs need to be custom-made for each amputee so that they’re comfortable and secure while in use. The advances in 3-D printing technology have improved efficiency, and for engineers and physicians, they’ve cut down on the time spent making these prostheses. The prostheses are customizable, and as 3-D printing becomes more commonplace, these devices can be printed by anyone at any time. 3-D printing can even create lightweight covers that create a more human silhouette. The covers give the wearer control over how these prostheses express their sense of self.


Smart Prostheses


Finally, there is the concept of intelligent prostheses. While the prosthetic limb designs we’ve previously seen are impressive, they still cannot replace the connection that an arm, leg, hand, or foot had to the amputee’s brain. An old-fashioned prosthetic hand may look like a hand and fit the limb it’s attached to, but it still may not be able to grasp and handle objects like the wearer may need it to. That all may change with the development of smart prostheses. Developers are finding ways to connect the brain to artificial intelligence in the prosthesis. So when the amputee thinks of picking up a cup, the prosthesis will move to their will. When the brain sees these new limbs as a part of the body, it will send signals to the remaining muscles. Developers hope to teach the prostheses to react to the contractions of the amputee’s muscles and then respond appropriately. Beyond that, some developers are also designing their prostheses to monitor the person using them. The artificial limbs would monitor their movements and their health to warn them of infection or damage to the prosthesis earlier than the person would have noticed otherwise. Many of these advancements are still in their prototype phase, but as technology becomes more advanced and independent, it’s only a matter of time until smart prostheses become the norm.


Source: Wikipedia - Prosthesis  |  Facts About Prosthetic Limbs

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Fact of the Day - CONSTELLATION


Did you know.... that a constellation is an area on the celestial sphere in which a group of visible stars forms a perceived outline or pattern, typically representing an animal, mythological person or creature, or an inanimate object. The origins of the earliest constellations likely go back to prehistory.  People used them to relate stories of their beliefs, experiences, creation, or mythology. Different cultures and countries adopted their own constellations, some of which lasted into the early 20th century before today's constellations were internationally recognized. The recognition of constellations has changed significantly over time. Many changed in size or shape. Some became popular, only to drop into obscurity. Some were limited to a single culture or nation. (Wikipedia)


Facts About Star Constellations
Peter Christoforou  |  February 22, 2013  |  Astronomy Lists  |  Star Constellations





1: Constellations Are Star Patterns In The Night Sky


Constellations (“set of stars”) are basically groups of stars that have imaginatively been linked together to depict mythological characters, animals and objects from mankind’s past. This allowed early people to organize the night sky into a recognizable form to assist in their religious study of the celestial heavens, as well as more earthly applications, such as predicting the seasons for farming, measuring time or as a directional compass.

2: There Are 88 Official Constellations


In 1922, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) officially recognized 88 constellations, 48 of which were recorded by the Greek astronomer Ptolemy in his book ‘Almagest’ written around 150 AD. Ptolemy’s chart had gaps, especially near the south celestial pole as this area was uncharted at the time, but over the centuries new constellations have been added to the list, including by Dutch explorers Gerardus Mercator (1551), and Pieter Keyser and Frederick de Hautmann near the turn of the 16th century. Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius (1690), and French astronomer Nicolas-Louis de Lacaille (1750s) later completed the remaining constellations we are now familiar with in the night sky.


3: Knowledge Of Constellations Came From Early Cultures


The Greeks knowledge of the constellations stretches way back in time at least to the 8th century BC when Homer made the earliest known Greek reference to the constellations Boötes, Orion, and Ursa Major in his epic poem the Iliad and the Odyssey. Nevertheless, much of the Greek’s initial knowledge of the constellations came to them from the Ancient Egyptians, who likely inherited their understanding from Ancient Babylon and Sumeria before them. In fact, at least 30 modern constellations can be shown to date back to at around the Late Bronze Age (1650-1050 BC), with references to some of the constellations found in Mesopotamian clay writing tablets and Babylonian star constellation catalogs dating back to the 3rd millennium BCE. There are also references to be found in the Hebrew Bible, and Biblical texts. Orion is perhaps the most distinctive of all the constellations, and an amazing discovery was made in 1972 at the Ach valley in Germany after an image of Orion was found carved into a piece of mammoth ivory more than 32,000 years old.


4: Different Constellations Become Visible Throughout The Year


Throughout the year different parts of the sky and therefore different constellations become visible to us as the Earth completes its annual orbit around the Sun. The constellations we see at night are those that are located behind the Earth on our side of the Sun, as we cannot see those constellations in the opposite direction behind the bright Sun during the day. To better understand why this is so, imagine sitting on a merry-go-round (Earth) with a very bright light (Sun) placed at its center. You will not be able to see past the light (Sun) because of its brightness, and so you can only see things by looking towards the outside of the merry-go-round, with the background changing as you spin around in a circle. Which constellations can be viewed throughout the year depends upon your latitude and will vary from different locations around the world. In the northern hemisphere, for instance, the constellation of Orion is a winter constellation, while Leo is associated with spring, Scorpius with summer, and Pegasus with autumn.


5: Constellations Travel From East To West Like The Sun


Each night more stars and constellation begin to appear in the eastern part of the sky at dusk before moving across and disappearing over the western horizon by dawn. Likewise, those constellations which we had been able to see low near the western horizon after sunset will vanish from our view only to be replaced by constellations which had been higher in the sky at sunset just a few weeks earlier. The constellations which appear in the east have a daily shift rate close to one degree per day, as completing a 360 degrees circular journey around the Sun in 365 days produces roughly that rate. One full year later, and the stars subsequently return to the same position and rising time as the year before.

6: Rotation Of Constellations A Matter of Perspective


The direction in which the constellations appear to rotate in the night sky is truly a matter of perspective, and is determined by the Earth’s rotation, as well as the direction in which an observer is facing. Looking north, the constellations appear to rotate counterclockwise around a fixed point in the night sky known as the north celestial pole, which is located near the north star Polaris. This is because the Earth spinning from West to East means the ground beneath you is rotating to your right, while above you the stars appear to follow an East to West direction (right to left) just like the Sun, Moon, and planets. If you face south, however, the stars would seem to revolve in a clockwise direction (left to right); while a person facing east would see the stars coming up in front of them and setting behind them. Likewise, a west facing observer will see the stars appearing to rise behind them before setting to their front (full article found here).


7: Zodiac Constellations Found Where Sun, Moon, and Planets Move


The most commonly known of all the 88 constellations are the 12 zodiac constellations, which appear within an 18 degree wide band of sky called the ecliptic plane, which the Sun, Moon and planets seems to traverse throughout the year from the Earth’s perspective. Less well known, however, is that there is in actual fact a 13th constellation which also occupies this zodiacal band, namely Ophiuchus the ‘serpent-bearer.’


8: Some Constellations Have Families


A constellation family refers to a group of constellations located within the same region of the night sky. They usually take their names from their most important constellation, the most prolific of which is the Hercules Family containing 19 constellations. Others include the Ursa Major Family (10), the Perseus Family (9) and the Orion Family (5).


9: Notable Constellations


The biggest constellation is Hydra which extends over more than 3% of the night sky, while the smallest is Crux covering a mere 0.165%. Centaurus contains the largest number of visible stars at 101; while Canis Major contains the brightest star in the celestial heavens, namely Sirius, which has an apparent magnitude of -1.46 and means ‘glowing’ in Ancient Greek. Mensa, on the other hand, is the faintest constellation in the night sky as its brightest star has a visual magnitude of just 5.09.


10: Asterism Not Considered True Constellation


An asterism is a pattern of stars that are widely recognized and contained within an official constellation but is not counted as a true constellation in itself. The Big Dipper, for instance, is a famous asterism but the seven stars in this arrangement of stars represent less than half of the whole constellation known as Ursa Major. Another famous asterism is the three stars in a row which form Orion’s Belt.



Source: Wikipedia - Constellation  |  Facts About Constellations

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