Category Archives: History

Jack The Ripper

Standard

20120831-113647.jpg

The name ‘Jack the Ripper‘ has become the most infamous in the annals of murder. Yet, the amazing fact is that his identity remains unproven today. In the years 1888-1891 the name was regarded with terror by the residents of London’s East End, and was known the world over. So shrouded in myth and mystery is this story that the facts are hard to identify at this remove in time. And it was the officers of Scotland Yard to whom the task of apprehending the fearsome killer was entrusted.

They may have failed, but they failed honourably, having made every effort and inquiry in their power to free London of the unknown terror.

20120831-113844.jpg

Over the years the mystery has deepened to the degree that the truth is almost totally obscured. Innumerable press stories, pamphlets, books, plays, films, and even musicals have dramatised and distorted the facts to such a degree that the fiction is publicly accepted more than the reality.

20120831-114019.jpg

124 years ago early this morning Jack the Ripper claimed his first victim. Ripperologist JON REES looks at the horrific murder of Mary Ann Nicholls that began what we now know as the Whitechapel Murders.

August 31st, 1888 approximately 3.40am:

Two cart drivers named Charles Cross and Robert Paul on their way to work pass through Bucks Row and come across what they think is a tarpaulin. On closer examination they realise it is a woman with her skirts raised. Thinking she is alive and drunk, they lower her skirts and plan to inform the first policemen they come across, doing so by informing PC Jonas Mizen. In the meantime PC John Neil has come across the woman during his beat, and when Mizen arrives Neil has summoned PC Thain to assist. The three police constables discover what the cartmen missed in the sparsely lit street. The womans throat had been cut and she was dead.

Mary Ann Nichols (known as Polly) was a 43 year old casual prostitute (like many of the poor women of the East End at the time). She was an alcoholic and following her divorce at the start of the 1880s she spent most of her time in workhouses or lodging houses, living off charitable handouts or through her meagre earnings as a prostitute. On the night of her death she had been turned out of her lodging house on Thrawl Street as she did not have the money needed for her doss (she later told a friend she had earned it four times that night but each time spent it on drink). She believed she would have no problem earning the money though as she had a “jolly bonnet” which she thought made her look appealing to potential customers.

Dr Llewelyn arrived on the scene at 4am and determined Polly had been dead for about an hour and the cause of death to be the result of two cuts to the throat. When Polly’s body was removed to the mortuary it was discovered that severe abdominal mutilations had also taken place.

20120831-113717.jpg

“Five of the teeth were missing, and there was a slight laceration of the tongue. There was a bruise running along the lower part of the jaw on the right side of the face. That might have been caused by a blow from a fist or pressure from a thumb. There was a circular bruise on the left side of the face which also might have been inflicted by the pressure of the fingers. On the left side of the neck, about 1in. below the jaw, there was an incision about 4in. in length, and ran from a point immediately below the ear. On the same side, but an inch below, and commencing about 1in. in front of it, was a circular incision, which terminated at a point about 3in. below the right jaw. That incision completely severed all the tissues down to the vertebrae. The large vessels of the neck on both sides were severed. The incision was about 8in. in length. The cuts must have been caused by a long-bladed knife, moderately sharp, and used with great violence.

No blood was found on the breast, either of the body or the clothes. There were no injuries about the body until just about the lower part of the abdomen. Two or three inches from the left side was a wound running in a jagged manner. The wound was a very deep one, and the tissues were cut through. There were several incisions running across the abdomen. There were three or four similar cuts running downwards, on the right side, all of which had been caused by a knife which had been used violently and downwards. The injuries were from left to right and might have been done by a left-handed person. All the injuries had been caused by the same instrument.” – The Times report on the inquest, 3rd September 1888.

The police had no suspects for Polly’s murder and rumours of a fiendish villain named Leather Apron began to fill the East End. Though he did not yet have his name, Jack the Ripper had struck and the Whitechapel murders had begun.

20120831-114104.jpg

Mooooo

xxx

Friday the 13th

Standard

20120713-132915.jpg

History

According to folklorists, there is no written evidence for a “Friday the 13th” superstition before the 19th century. The earliest known documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th.

He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that one Friday 13th of November he died.

Several theories have been proposed about the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition.

One theory states that it is a modern amalgamation of two older superstitions: that thirteen is an unlucky number and that Friday is an unlucky day.

• In numerology, the number twelve is considered the number of completeness, as reflected in the twelve months of the year, twelve hours of the clock, twelve gods of Olympus, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve Apostles of Jesus, the 12 successors of Muhammad in Shia Islam, etc., whereas the number thirteen was considered irregular, transgressing this completeness. There is also a superstition, thought by some to derive from the Last Supper or a Norse myth, that having thirteen people seated at a table will result in the death of one of the diners.

• Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century’s The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.

• One author, noting that references are all but nonexistent before 1907 but frequently seen thereafter, has argued that its popularity derives from the publication that year of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, in which an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th.

• Records of the superstition are rarely found before the 20th century, when it became extremely common. The connection between the Friday the 13th superstition and the Knights Templar was popularized in Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and in John J. Robinson’s 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry. On Friday, 13 October 1307, hundreds of the Knights Templar were arrested in France, an action apparently motivated financially and undertaken by the efficient royal bureaucracy to increase the prestige of the crown. Philip IV was the force behind this ruthless move, but it has also tarnished the historical reputation of Clement V. From the very day of Clement V’s coronation, the king falsely charged the Templars with heresy, immorality and abuses, and the scruples of the Pope were compromised by a growing sense that the burgeoning French State might not wait for the Church, but would proceed independently. However, experts agree that this is a relatively recent correlation, and most likely a modern-day invention.

Phobia names and etymology

The fear of Friday the 13th has been called friggatriskaidekaphobia (Frigga being the name of the Norse goddess for whom “Friday” is named and triskaidekaphobia meaning fear of the number thirteen), or paraskevidekatriaphobia a concatenation of the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”) attached to phobía (φοβία, from phóbos, φόβος, meaning “fear”). The latter word was derived in 1911 and first appeared in a mainstream source in 1953.

20120713-134051.jpg

Tuesday the 13th

In Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday, Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck.
The Greeks also consider Tuesday (and especially the 13th) to be an unlucky day. Tuesday is considered to be dominated by the influence of Ares (Mars), the god of war. A connection can be seen in the etymology of the name in some European languages (Mardi in French or martes in Spanish). The Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans happened on Tuesday, May 29, 1453, fact that strengthens the superstition about Tuesday. In addition, in Greek the name of the day is Triti (Τρίτη) meaning literally the third (day of the week), adding weight to the superstition, since bad luck is said to “come in threes”.

Friday the 17th

In Italian popular culture, Friday the 17th (and not the 13th) is considered a day of bad luck. In fact, in Italy, 13 is generally considered a lucky number. However, due to Anglo-Saxon influence, young people consider Friday the 13th to be unlucky as well.
The 2000 parody film Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the Thirteenth was released in Italy with the title Shriek – Hai impegni per venerdì 17? (“Shriek – Do You Have Something to Do on Friday the 17th?”).

20120713-134353.jpg

Social impact

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed. “It’s been estimated that [US]$800 or $900 million is lost in business on this day”. Despite this, representatives for both Delta Air Lines and Continental Airlines say that their airlines do not suffer from any noticeable drop in travel on those Fridays.

Rate of accidents

The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics (CVS) on June 12, 2008, stated that “fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of the month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home. Statistically speaking, driving is slightly safer on Friday the 13th, at least in the Netherlands; in the last two years, Dutch insurers received reports of an average 7,800 traffic accidents each Friday; but the average figure when the 13th fell on a Friday was just 7,500.”

20120713-133053.jpg

20120713-133117.jpg

Mooooo

xxx

Famous Portraits

Standard

Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) is one of the masters of 20th century photography. His body of work includes portraits of statesmen, artists, musicians, authors, scientists, and men and women of accomplishment. His extraordinary and unique portfolio presents the viewer with an intimate and compassionate view of humanity.

20120619-095510.jpg
Albert Einstein

20120619-095536.jpg
Joan Crawford

20120619-095543.jpg
Jacques Cousteau

20120619-095608.jpg
George Bernard Shaw

20120619-095617.jpg
Fidel Castro

20120619-095649.jpg
Humphrey Bogart

20120619-095837.jpg
Ernest Hemingway

20120619-095842.jpg
Elizabeth Taylor

20120619-095847.jpg
Dwight D. Eisenhower

20120619-095853.jpg
Brigitte Bardot

20120619-095905.jpg

Andrey Hepburn

20120619-100004.jpg

Winston Churchill

20120619-100046.jpg
Pablo Picasso

20120619-100014.jpg

Pope Pius XII

20120619-100020.jpg

Muhammed Ali

20120619-100025.jpg

Mother Teresa

20120619-100033.jpg

Martin Luther King

20120619-100037.jpg

Margot Fonteyn

20120619-100041.jpg

John F. Kennedy

Mooooo

xxx

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in Pictures

Standard

A Diamond Jubilee is a celebration held to mark a 75th anniversary, but only the 60th anniversary in the case of a monarch (e.g. length of time a monarch has reigned). Traditionally, the diamond jubilee or anniversary of a person was also on the 75th anniversary. This changed with the diamond jubilee of the English Queen Victoria’s reign. There was considerable national unrest when Queen Victoria largely withdrew from public life after her husband’s death in 1861. It was decided to bring the diamond jubilee forward to the 60th anniversary on 22 June, 1897. The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, celebrated on 2 June, 2012, was only the second in the country’s history.

20120606-103648.jpg

More than 1 million people gathered in central London as the Queen made her final public appearance of the diamond jubilee celebrations.

20120606-141132.jpg

Here are some pictures of the 4 days

Saturday 2 June

The Queen attended the Epsom Derby

20120606-112221.jpg

20120606-112236.jpg

20120606-112244.jpg

20120606-112249.jpg

20120606-112310.jpg

Sunday 3 June

The Big Jubilee Lunch: Building on the already popular Big Lunch initiative, people were encouraged to share lunch with neighbours and friends as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

20120606-112532.jpg

20120606-112540.jpg

20120606-112546.jpg

20120606-112603.jpg

20120606-112611.jpg

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant: This event took place on the Thames and consisted of up to 1,000 boats assembled from across the UK, the Commonwealth and around the world. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh travelled in the Royal Barge which formed the centrepiece of the flotilla.

20120606-113513.jpg

20120606-113529.jpg

20120606-113537.jpg

20120606-113546.jpg

20120606-113551.jpg

20120606-113558.jpg

20120606-113649.jpg

Monday 4 June

BBC Concert at Buckingham Palace: A host of famous faces came together to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee against the backdrop of Buckingham Palace.

20120606-115019.jpg

20120606-115038.jpg

20120606-115231.jpg

20120606-115328.jpg

20120606-115336.jpg

20120606-115403.jpg

20120606-115423.jpg

20120606-115434.jpg

20120606-115440.jpg

20120606-115450.jpg

20120606-115456.jpg

20120606-115503.jpg

20120606-115520.jpg

20120606-115617.jpg

20120606-115704.jpg

20120606-115723.jpg

20120606-115743.jpg

20120606-115758.jpg

20120606-115834.jpg

20120606-115841.jpg

20120606-115859.jpg

20120606-115946.jpg

20120606-120037.jpg

20120606-120045.jpg

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons: A network of 2,012 Beacons will be lit by communities and individuals throughout the United Kingdom, as well as the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Commonwealth. As in 2002, The Queen will light the National Beacon.

20120606-120456.jpg

20120606-120531.jpg

20120606-121847.jpg

20120606-121856.jpg

20120606-121901.jpg

20120606-121907.jpg

20120606-121912.jpg

20120606-121928.jpg

20120606-121952.jpg

Tuesday 5 June

The Diamond Jubilee weekend culminated with a day of celebrations in central London, including a service at St Paul’s Cathedral followed by two receptions, a lunch at Westminster Hall, a Carriage Procession to Buckingham Palace and finally a Balcony appearance, Flypast, and Feu de Joie.

20120606-124512.jpg

20120606-124517.jpg

20120606-124526.jpg

20120606-124544.jpg

20120606-124558.jpg

20120606-124610.jpg

20120606-124621.jpg

20120606-124633.jpg

20120606-124638.jpg

20120606-124651.jpg

20120606-124748.jpg

20120606-124753.jpg

20120606-124758.jpg

20120606-124812.jpg

20120606-125139.jpg

20120606-125149.jpg

20120606-130243.jpg

20120606-130248.jpg

20120606-130256.jpg

20120606-130303.jpg

20120606-130315.jpg

20120606-130332.jpg

20120606-130341.jpg

20120606-130348.jpg

20120606-130354.jpg

20120606-130411.jpg

20120606-130420.jpg

20120606-130429.jpg

20120606-130851.jpg

20120606-130903.jpg

20120606-130932.jpg

20120606-130937.jpg

20120606-130958.jpg

20120606-131227.jpg

20120606-131239.jpg

20120606-131244.jpg

20120606-131248.jpg

~~

20120606-131601.jpg

Mooooo

xxx

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant

Standard

It was a quintessentially British occasion, with weather to match.

The sky over the Thames was a steely, unbroken grey. The vast crowd certainly needed their umbrellas.

The Queen and other members of the royal family have taken part in a flotilla of more than 1,000 boats that made its way along the Thames in the Diamond Jubilee river pageant.

20120604-130355.jpg

Some 1.2 million people gathered in central London to watch the pageant and cheer on the royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell, in the centrepiece of celebrations marking 60 years of Her Majesty’s reign.

20120604-130556.jpg

Bells rang out to mark the start of the pageant, and among those in the flotilla were narrow boats, tugs, Dunkirk little ships, pleasure cruisers and steam boats.

Bridges and embankments were filled with spectators, all desperate to catch a glimpse of the myriad of vessels passing by.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were joined on their vessel by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, as well as Prince Harry and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

20120604-130157.jpg

The royal barge, decorated with 10,000 flowers from the royal estates, began its journey from Cadogan Pier in west London.

The 86-year-old monarch wore a silver and white dress and matching coat – an outfit that has been a year in the planning and was designed by the royal dresser Angela Kelly.
Its colour scheme was chosen to stand out against the red, gold and purple hues of the royal barge.

After travelling for around seven miles through the capital, the royal barge moored just past Tower Bridge, as heavy showers began to fall.

20120604-131242.jpg

The Queen then braved the rain without an umbrella and stood under an ornate canopy to watch the spectacle of the flotilla, that had been travelling behind her.

The boats passed under all 13 central London river crossings from Battersea Bridge to Tower Bridge in what was thought to be the largest live public event ever held in London.

The pageant was brought to a close with an orchestra playing Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia and the national anthem.

~

20120604-131926.jpg

20120604-132012.jpg

20120604-132026.jpg

20120604-132041.jpg

20120604-132106.jpg

20120604-132137.jpg

20120604-132144.jpg

20120604-132150.jpg

20120604-132205.jpg

20120604-132158.jpg

20120604-140141.jpg

20120604-140153.jpg

20120604-140200.jpg

20120604-140236.jpg

20120604-140245.jpg

20120604-140530.jpg

20120604-140548.jpg

20120604-140555.jpg

20120604-140600.jpg

20120604-140651.jpg

20120604-140741.jpg

20120604-140754.jpg

Mooooo

xxx

Happy 153rd Birthday Big Ben!

Standard

20120531-113240.jpg

Today is Big Ben’s 153rd birthday and to celebrate I give you a run-down of some choice facts about everyone’s favourite bell.

– Big Ben, and the tower it stands in (yes, we know the difference) were built after a fire partially destroyed the existing Palace of Westminster.

– Big Ben is a big boy. The original bell weighed in at over 16 tonnes and it took a trolley pulled by 16 horses to transport it from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry to New Palace Yard, accompanied by cheering crowds.

– Big Ben is actually Big Ben the II. After all that effort, they broke the original bell in tests and had to make a new one. Within a few months Ben had broken again, but was repaired and still chimes today complete with crack.

– Big Ben was the biggest bell in Britain before being trumped by ‘Great Paul’, which hangs (predictably) in St Paul’s.

– There are disputes over who exactly is Ben’s namesake. Many believe it was named in honour of Sir Benjamin Hall who as the London commissioner of works oversaw the bell’s installation. Our preferred alternative is that Ben is named after the truly colossal heavyweight champ, Big Benjamin Caunt.

– BBC Radio Four transmits the chimes of Big Ben live every night before the six o’clock news. Why they don’t record them we’ll never know.

– Ben is a war hero. The bells were silenced and the clock face dimmed during WW1 but rang out clear and strong throughout WW2. The Palace of Westminster was hit on fourteen separate occasions over the course of WW2.

– UK residents can climb the tower by requesting a tour via their local MP.

– Big Ben is on twitter (unofficially), follow @big_ben_clock for the latest bongs.

Happy 153rd Birthday Big Ben!!!

Mooooo

xxx

The Lost Art of Brazilian Photograph Painting

Standard

20120530-101746.jpg

Throughout the late 19th century up until the 1990s, these captivating and strangely painted portraits (retratos pintados) were a common practice in rural northeastern Brazil. Family portraits were retouched with a heavy hand, painting over the original image with bold brush strokes which transformed family members into the rich, healthy and beautiful… even the dead ones.

The images are part of historian Titus Riedl’s collection of the images displayed in his book Retratos Pintados. Throughout the period when these images were being created, street-traders (called bonequeiros) would commonly attract clients in remote rural villages, then with images in hand, they would travel to bigger towns where they would hand over the materials to puxadores who would enlarge the photographs. Then painters, often in small, improvised studios, would create the final image. Returning to the original village, often weeks later, the image was finally delivered to the client.

With the advent of modern technology and the lack of readily available photo paper, the unique tradition has largely died out. It has now been replaced with modern digital techniques like Photoshop and printed on inkjet printers… often with an elaborate phone card, postcard or screensaver motif as their background. For more about these unique pieces of cultural history, see the interview with Martin Parr (who wrote the intro to Riedl’s book) at themorningnews.org.

20120530-101824.jpg

20120530-101830.jpg

20120530-101835.jpg

20120530-101839.jpg

20120530-101844.jpg

20120530-101848.jpg

20120530-101853.jpg

20120530-101858.jpg

20120530-101903.jpg

Mooooo

xxx

Beautiful And Inspiring Words

Standard

Sometimes all it takes for us to have that ‘aha’ moment, that revelatory kernel of truth that wakes us up and sends us in the right direction, is one sentence spoken clearly and concisely. These posters do just that, capturing some of the wisdom written by the great philosophers that have gone before us, those who explored the far boundaries of human understanding and wisdom. The bold, black and white typography against a newsprint like halftone, is just the right look for such truthful statements strongly said.

20120523-093645.jpg

The series of posters was created by Max Temkin, a designer and print maker from Chicago, Illinois. He was inspired to create the set after a retiring teacher gave him a poster containing an enlightening message from Friedrich Nietzsche… but one that was designed in a fashion far less inspiring than the quote itself. Looking to create something more fitting of the wise words these thinkers gave us, he recently started a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds and sell the beautiful hand silk-screened posters at a bargain price of $20 a pop… and has had a huge amount of interest. In fact, he’s sold 1362 prints to date. It’s almost as inspiring a story as the quotes he’s sharing. To get your hands on one of these prints and their deep messages, head to Max’s site: Maxistentialism.

20120523-093735.jpg

20120523-093743.jpg

20120523-093748.jpg

20120523-093754.jpg

20120523-093759.jpg

20120523-093805.jpg

20120523-093825.jpg

20120523-094010.jpg

20120523-094018.jpg

20120523-094023.jpg

20120523-094030.jpg

20120523-094036.jpg

Mooooo

xxx

Europe in under Four Minutes

Standard

20120517-173145.jpg

This time-lapse video of a map of Europe shows how the borders of our continent changed from around AD1,000 through to 2012. We challenge you not to be transfixed as the Holy Roman Empire becomes what we know today as Belgium, Czech Republic, Switzerland and other countries, and Castile and Aragon are transformed into Spain. It’s like being in a history lesson again, only more fun.

Mooooo

xxx

Young Genius

Standard

20120510-155708.jpg

In 1985, shortly after being fired from Apple, Steve Jobs founded NeXT, the somewhat short-lived but revolutionary company focused on higher education and business services. It was there that Jobs honed his visionary approach to computing and design, and crystalized his lens of priorities — the very qualities that made him not only a cultural icon but also a personal hero.

This fascinating PBS documentary, titled The Entrepreneurs and filmed in 1986, offers a rare glimpse of Jobs’ original vision with NeXT, from his aspirations for higher education and simulated learning environments to his decision-making process on price point and product features to his approach to company culture and motivational morale.

More important than building a product, we are in the process of architecting a company that will hopefully be much more incredible, the total will be much more incredible than the sum of its parts, and the cumulative effort of approximately 20,000 decisions that we’re all gonna make over the next two years are gonna define what our company is. And one of the things that made Apple great was that, in the early days, it was built from the heart.”

Merely 48 months later, Jobs stood up in front of a riveted audience at San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall and introduced four fully crystalized, groundbreaking NeXT products, including “some of the neatest apps that have ever been created for any desktop platform,” “the best color that’s ever been,” and “the most important new application area in the 1990s…interpersonal computing.”

Mooooo

xxx