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History of April Fools Day – Video Blog


Video Produced By: Jeremiah Warren

April Fools’ Day is celebrated in many countries on April 1 every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other.
20130401-113417.jpgIn Italy, France and Belgium, children and adults traditionally tack paper fishes on each other’s back as a trick and shout “April fish!” in their local languages (pesce d’aprile!, poisson d’avril! and aprilvis! in Italian, French and Flemish, respectively). Such fish feature prominently on many French late 19th to early 20th century April Fools’ Day postcards.The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness is an ambiguous reference in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392). Many writers suggest that the restoration of January 1 by Pope Gregory XIII as New Year’s Day of the Gregorian Calendar in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, sometimes questioned for earlier references.

Origins

Precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25, and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28, still a day on which pranks are played in Spanish-speaking countries.
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In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392), the “Nun’s Priest’s Tale” is set Syn March bigan thritty dayes and two. Modern scholars believe that there is a copying error in the extant manuscripts and that Chaucer actually wrote, Syn March was gon.[5] Thus, the passage originally meant 32 days after April, i.e. May 2, the anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia, which took place in 1381. Readers apparently misunderstood this line to mean “March 32”, i.e. April 1. In Chaucer’s tale, the vain cock Chauntecleer is tricked by a fox.

In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the holiday. In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on April 1. In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as “Fooles holy day”, the first British reference. On April 1, 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to “see the Lions washed”.

In the Middle Ages, up until the late 18th century, New Year’s Day was celebrated on March 25 (Feast of the Annunciation) in most European towns. In some areas of France, New Year’s was a week-long holiday ending on April 1. Many writers suggest that April Fools originated because those who celebrated on January 1 made fun of those who celebrated on other dates. The use of January 1 as New Year’s Day was common in France by the mid-16th century,[6] and this date was adopted officially in 1564 by the Edict of Roussillon.

A study in the 1950s, by folklorists Iona and Peter Opie, found that in the UK and those countries whose traditions derived from there, the joking ceased at midday. But this practice appears to have lapsed in more recent years.

Source: Wikipedia
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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Scores of 1940s-1950s Cars Found New In A Closed Dealership – Video/Audio Blog

A Cacophony of Classic Cars Heads To Auction

Lambrecht Chevrolet of Pierce, Neb., was like many Midwestern, small-town dealers — owned and operated by a family, with minimal overhead and little need for advertising since most customers were neighbors. Ray and Mildred Lambrecht ran the dealership with just one employee for 50 years before closing up, and later this year the Lambrechts will sell off a trove of 500-odd vehicles they’ve held onto over the decades — including roughly 50 with less than 10 miles on their odometers. It’s less a car sale than a time capsule auction.

While many of the cars in the Lambrecht collection were customer trade-ins that were left outside to rot, the Lambrechts would occasionally take something they couldn’t sell and just put it in storage. City folk might find it unthinkable to leave so many vehicles lying around for so many years, but there’s always more space in rural Nebraska, and the annual costs fall to zero quickly. I wouldn’t call it hoarding, but I know many people who gather old metal like this do form an attachment to their kingdom of rust; every ride has a story, even when there’s weeds growing around it. Jeannie Lambrecht Stillwell, the Lambrecht’s daughter, says the decision to sell wasn’t an easy one for her parents, and that the cars “comprise a lifetime of hard work, tears, and joy.”

Fortunately for collectors, the Lambrechts preservation-through-neglect has created the type of barn finds that many search years to discover. Among the dozen low-miles pickups sits a 1956 Chevrolet Cameo pickup with an odometer reading of just over one mile, and a 1964 Chevy Impala with six miles that still has its original window sticker and the plastic sheeting that covered its red leather seats. Although even ardent Corvette fans look askance at the late ’70s models, the ’78 version here with five miles has an appeal that’s grown over time.

The rest of the 500-car list reads like an inventory of popular models from the ’50s and ’60s — Bel Airs, Corvairs and even a couple of Vegas — which the VanDerBrink Auction company is still documenting ahead of the sale in Pierce on Sept. 28-29, along with dozens of pieces of memorabilia, hubcaps and even a Corvette pedal car. You can see the auctioneer take a walk though the Lambrechts’ garage below:

Car collectors dream about finding a forgotten “new” classic car, discovered in a barn  or warehouse somewhere, covered in dust. This is that dream, only 500 times better….

A small-town Midwestern dealership in Pierce, Nebraska sold Chevrolets to local families  and first-time buyers for 50 years until it’s husband and wife team finally closed their doors seventeen years ago. Since then, a staggering inventory of 500 surviving cars, new & used, have been stored away, undriven for decades. Some 50 cars “brand new” Chevrolets from the 1950s and 60s have less than 10 miles on the odometer.

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Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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History of The New Jersey Shores Food and Boardwalks

Home Made Jersey Shore Video:

Tastes of the Jersey Shore

new jersey lobsters, new jersey crabs, old advertisment, old image, funny, crab suit

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By: Tom Wilk
From saltwater taffy to seafood dinners, the Jersey Shore has always offered vacationers plenty of options to satisfy any appetite. Author Karen L. Schnitzspahn takes a look at the foods that lined the boardwalks and filled the dinner plates at Shore restaurants in “Jersey Shore Food History: Victorian Feasts to Boardwalk Treats” (American Palate/The History Press; 2012).

“Food is a big part of the Shore culture,” she says, in explaining the inspiration for the book. A New Jersey native who lives in Little Silver, Schnitzspahn fondly recalls visiting her grandparents in Margate in the 1950s.

“I remember going to Hackney’s and ordering lobster as a child. I thought it was the greatest thing in the world,” she says. The Atlantic City restaurant accommodated up to 3,200 patrons and featured waitresses in lobster costumes at the Miss America parade and in promotional materials to highlight its signature dish.

Schnitzspahn shows how Shore cuisine has evolved from the 19th century to the present. An 1850 breakfast menu from Congress Hall in Cape May offers standard fare, such as scrambled eggs and fried potatoes. However, the first four items listed are unlikely to grace most breakfast tables today: beef steaks, mutton chops, fresh fish and tripe. “I think that was the European influence,” she says, as the breakfast offerings also included kidneys, liver and clam fritters.

Other popular dishes fell out of favor with the passage of time. Celia Brown’s, a Belmar drive-in, offered a pineapple with cream cheese sandwich for 20 cents in the mid-1930s. And restaurants were not above adding a side of hyperbole to their meals. “We make the best Chocolate Ice Cream Soda in the World or any other place,” Celia Brown’s menu proclaimed.

alan brechmna, 1979, atlatic ciyt, dip stix

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Schnitzspahn offers short profiles of Shore institutions, including Kohr Brothers ice cream, Max’s Famous Hot Dogs in Long Branch and the Knife and Fork Inn in Atlantic City. Interspersed through the book are 90 photographs and illustrations. Some demonstrate the visual element in marketing food and drink.

After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Atlantic City celebrated the occasion with a merry-go-round bar that made it stand out from other watering holes. The WindMill restaurant in Long Branch remains a landmark that creates a lasting impression with its white vanes.

To give readers the opportunity to sample Shore cuisine through the ages, Schnitzspahn has reprinted more than 20 recipes. They range from an 1873 recipe for mock turtle soup served at the West End Hotel in Long Branch to a recipe for funnel cake, the popular boardwalk snack.

“I like to eat, but I don’t consider myself a foodie,” says Schnitzspahn, who tried out some of the recipes with her two grandchildren, including one for blancmange from the 19th century.

Today, she sees the Shore adapting to keep up with culinary trends, such as the farm-to-table movement and the growing demand for organic food. “There are now more vegetarian options and vegan restaurants,” she says.

Schnitzspahn believes Shore restaurants can handle all tastes. “There’s something for everybody, whether you want to hold a meal in your hand or sit down to a spectacular five-course dinner.”

View A Slide Show of 1900s New Jersey photos here.

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History of the New Jersey Board Walk

atlatic city, 1942, us army airforces

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Nothing is more New Jersey than its boardwalks. Hundreds of thousands of visitors and residents enjoy the unique entertainment that these iconic wooden pathways provide along the Jersey Shore.

Many towns along the state’s 130 miles of ocean coastline boast a boardwalk and each one has its own individuality. Family-friendly, bustling, romantic or sophisticated, Jersey Shore boardwalk towns have dozens of distinct styles that appeal to all ages.

The boardwalk as we know it today – a raised promenade of plank boards straddling the sandy coastline – first appeared in Atlantic City in 1870, making it the world’s first. Today, it’s also the world’s longest.

Its initial purpose was pragmatic, intending to minimize the amount of sand trafficked into seaside hotels and train cars, but it wasn’t long before the boardwalk was inserted into the public consciousness as a symbol of good times and easy living.

New Jersey boardwalks are very distinctive. Writer Jeff Schlegel put it best in an article in the Washington Post, when he stated candidly, “With all due respect to Coney Island and Virginia Beach, no place in the country matches the breadth and depth of boardwalk culture found along the Jersey Shore.”

atlatic city, black and white, 1967, tram car

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In addition to Atlantic City, Jersey Shore boardwalks offer something for everyone. The mile long boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach is a super family-friendly promenade with tons of rides and arcades for kids, a wide beach, restaurants, bars and even an aquarium.

To the south of Point Pleasant Beach is the Seaside Heights boardwalk that features the Casino and Funtown piers amusement parks. The mile long boardwalk is action-packed and one of the most popular and most visited in the state and is a magnet for young people. It’s full of game stands, rides, arcades and even a waterpark.

Near the southern most tip of New Jersey Wildwood has a total of five amusement piers, dozens of carnival games, souvenir shops, food stands, waterparks and world-class roller coasters. This bustling boardwalk draws tons of visitors to enjoy all the amusements, the expansive beach and the many special events.

For those seeking a quieter setting Spring Lake offers residents and vacationers alike an unhurried and peaceful atmosphere that has made the town a highly-desirable destination at the Jersey Shore for more than 100 years. Along with its uncluttered beach, the two-mile long boardwalk is the longest non-commercial boardwalk in New Jersey and provides a unique atmosphere for all visitors.

So, when in New Jersey, don’t miss out on the unforgettable experience of visiting our state’s boardwalks.

Compiled By: Josh Martin

Sources:
visitnj.com
Philly.com
NJ.com

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in History, Music Video, Uncategorized, Video Blog

 

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History of Labor Day – Video Blog

Labor Day: How it Came About; What it Means

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

Founder of Labor Day

More than 100 years after the first Labor Day observance, there is still some doubt as to who first proposed the holiday for workers.

Some records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, was first in suggesting a day to honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.”

But Peter McGuire’s place in Labor Day history has not gone unchallenged. Many believe that Matthew Maguire, a machinist, not Peter McGuire, founded the holiday. Recent research seems to support the contention that Matthew Maguire, later the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in Paterson, N.J., proposed the holiday in 1882 while serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. What is clear is that the Central Labor Union adopted a Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.

The First Labor Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day holiday just a year later, on September 5, 1883.

In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday, as originally proposed, and the Central Labor Union urged similar organizations in other cities to follow the example of New York and celebrate a “workingmen’s holiday” on that date. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations, and in 1885 Labor Day was celebrated in many industrial centers of the country.

Labor Day Legislation

Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.

A Nationwide Holiday

The form that the observance and celebration of Labor Day should take was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday — a street parade to exhibit to the public “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” of the community, followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of the workers and their families. This became the pattern for the celebrations of Labor Day. Speeches by prominent men and women were introduced later, as more emphasis was placed upon the economic and civic significance of the holiday. Still later, by a resolution of the American Federation of Labor convention of 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement.

The character of the Labor Day celebration has undergone a change in recent years, especially in large industrial centers where mass displays and huge parades have proved a problem. This change, however, is more a shift in emphasis and medium of expression. Labor Day addresses by leading union officials, industrialists, educators, clerics and government officials are given wide coverage in newspapers, radio, and television.

The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy. It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.

Compiled By: Josh Martin
Sources: Department of labor

 

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French Culture Explained from an American perspective.

Culture of France

The culture of France and of the French people has been shaped by geography, by profound historical events, and by foreign and internal forces and groups. France, and in particular Paris, has played an important role as a center of high culture and of decorative arts since the 17th century, first in Europe, and from the 19th century on, world wide. From the late 19th century, France has also played an important role in cinema, fashion and cuisine. The importance of French culture has waxed and waned over the centuries, depending on its economic, political and military importance. French culture today is marked both by great regional and socioeconomic differences and by strong unifying tendencies.

Problems in defining “French” culture:

Wherever one comes from, “culture” consists of beliefs and values learned through the socialization process as well as material artifacts. “Culture is the learned set of beliefs, values, norms and material goods shared by group members. Culture consists of everything we learn in groups during the life course-from infancy to old age.”

The conception of “French” culture however poses certain difficulties and presupposes a series of assumptions about what precisely the expression “French” means. Whereas American culture posits the notion of the “melting-pot” and cultural diversity, the expression “French culture” tends to refer implicitly to a specific geographical entity (as, say, “metropolitan France”, generally excluding its overseas departments) or to a specific historico-sociological group defined by ethnicity, language, religion and geography. The realities of “Frenchness” however, are extremely complicated. Even before the late 18th-19th century, “metropolitan France” was largely a patchwork of local customs and regional differences that the unifying aims of the Ancien Régime and the French Revolution had only begun to work against, and today’s France remains a nation of numerous indigenous and foreign languages, of multiple ethnicities and religions, and of regional diversity that includes French citizens in Corsica, Guadeloupe, Martinique and elsewhere around the globe.

The creation of some sort of typical or shared French culture or “cultural identity”, despite this vast heterogeneity, is the result of powerful internal forces — such as the French educational system, mandatory military service, state linguistic and cultural policies — and by profound historic events — such as the Franco-Prussian war and the two World Wars — which have forged a sense of national identity over the last 200 years. However, despite these unifying forces, France today still remains marked by social class and by important regional differences in culture (cuisine, dialect/accent, local traditions) that many fear will be unable to withstand contemporary social forces (depopulation of the countryside, immigration, centralization, market forces and the world economy).

In recent years, to fight the loss of regional diversity, many in France have promoted forms of multiculturalism and encouraged cultural enclaves (communautarisme), including reforms on the preservation of regional languages and the decentralization of certain government functions, but French multiculturalism has had a harder time of accepting, or of integrating into the collective identity, the large non-Christian and immigrant communities and groups that have come to France since the 1960s.

The last 50 years has also seen French cultural identity “threatened” by global market forces and by American “cultural hegemony”. Since its dealings with the 1993 GATT free trade negotiations, France has fought for what it calls the exception culturelle, meaning the right to subsidize or treat favorably domestic cultural production and to limit or control foreign cultural products (as seen in public funding for French cinema or the lower VAT accorded to books). The notion of an explicit exception française however has angered many of France’s critics.

The French are often perceived as taking a great pride in national identity and the positive achievements of France (the expression “chauvinism” is of French origin) and cultural issues are more integrated in the body of the politics than elsewhere (see “The Role of the State”, below). The French Revolution claimed universalism for the democratic principles of the Republic. Charles de Gaulle actively promoted a notion of French “grandeur” (“greatness”). Perceived declines in cultural status are a matter of national concern and have generated national debates, both from the left (as seen in the anti-globalism of José Bové) and from the right and far right (as in the discourses of the National Front).

According to Hofstede’s Framework for Assessing Culture, the culture of France is moderately individualistic and high Power Distance Index.

Now, the interracial blending of some native French and newcomers stands as a vibrant and boasted feature of French culture, from popular music to movies and literature. Therefore, alongside mixing of populations, exists also a cultural blending (le métissage culturel) that is present in France. It may be compared to the traditional US conception of the melting-pot. The French culture might have been already blended in from other races and ethnicities, in cases of some biographical research on the possibility of African ancestry on a small number of famous French citizens. Author Alexandre Dumas, père possessed one-fourth black Haitian descent, and Empress Josephine Napoleon who was born and raised in the French West Indies from a plantation estate family. We can mention as well, the most famous French singer Edith Piaf whose grandmother was a North African from Kabylie.

For a long time, the only objection to such outcomes predictably came from the far-right schools of thought. In the past few years, other unexpected voices are however beginning to question what they interpret, as the new philosopher Alain Finkielkraut coined the term, as an “Ideology of miscegenation” (une idéologie du métissage) that may come from what one other philosopher, Pascal Bruckner, defined as the “Sob of the White man” (le sanglot de l’homme blanc). These critics have been dismissed by the mainstream and their propagators have been labelled as new reactionaries (les nouveaux réactionnaires), even if racist and anti-immigration sentiment has recently been documented to be increasing in France at least according to one poll.

Language:

The Académie française sets an official standard of language “purity”; however, this standard, which is not mandatory, is often ignored by the government itself: for instance, the left-wing government of Lionel Jospin pushed for the feminization of the names of some functions (madame la ministre) while the Académie pushed for some more traditional madame le ministre.

Some action has been taken by the government in order to promote French culture and the French language. For instance, there exists a system of subsidies and preferential loans for supporting French cinema. The Toubon law, from the name of the conservative culture minister who promoted it, makes it mandatory to use French in advertisements directed to the general public. Note that contrary to some misconception sometimes found in the Anglophone media, the French government neither regulates the language used by private parties in non-commercial settings, nor makes it compulsory that France-based WWW sites should be in French.

France counts many regional languages, some of them being very different from standard French such as Breton and Alsatian. Some regional languages are Roman, like French, such as Occitan. The Basque language is completely unrelated to French and, indeed, to any other language in the world; its area straddles the border between the south west of France and the north of Spain. Many of those languages have enthusiastic advocates; however, the real importance of local languages remains subject to debate. In April 2001, the Minister of Education, Jack Lang, admitted formally that for more than two centuries, the political powers of the French government had repressed regional languages, and announced that bilingual education would, for the first time, be recognized, and bilingual teachers recruited in French public schools. English is taught in schools as a second language.

A revision of the French constitution creating official recognition of regional languages was implemented by the Parliament in Congress at Versailles in July 2008.

Religion:

France is a secular country where freedom of thought and of religion is preserved, by virtue of the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. The Republic is based on the principle of laïcité, that is of freedom of religion (including of agnosticism and atheism) enforced by the Jules Ferry laws and the 1905 law on the separation of the State and the Church, enacted at the beginning of the Third Republic (1871–1940). A January 2007 poll found that 61% of the French population describe themselves as Roman Catholics, 21% as Atheists, 4% as Muslims, 3% as Protestants, 1% as Buddhists, and 1% as Jews. France guarantees freedom of religion as a constitutional right and the government generally respects this right in practice. A long history of violent conflict between groups led the state to break its ties to the Catholic Church early in the last century and adopt a strong commitment to maintaining a totally secular public sector.

Catholicism:

The Roman Catholic Church has always played a significant role in French culture and in French life. Most French people are Roman Catholic Christians, however many of them are secular but still place high value on Catholicism.

The Roman Catholic faith is no longer considered the state religion, as it was before the 1789 Revolution and throughout the various, non-republican regimes of the 19th century (the Restoration, the July Monarchy and the Second Empire). The Official split of Catholic Church and State (“Séparation de l’Eglise et de l’Etat”) took place in 1905, and this major reform emphazises the Laicist and anti-clericalist mood of French Radical Republicans in this period.

At the beginning of the 20th century, France was a largely rural country with conservative Catholic mores, but in the hundred years since then, the countryside has become depopulated, and the population has largely become more secular. A December 2006 poll by Harris Interactive, published in The Financial Times, found that 32% of the French population described themselves as agnostic, a further 32% as atheist and only 27% believed in any type of God or supreme being.

Islam:

After Catholicism, Islam is the second largest faith in France today, and the country has the largest Muslim population (in percentage) of any Western European country. This is a result of immigration and permanent family settlement in France, from the 1960s on, of groups from, principally, North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia) and, to a lesser extent, other areas such as Turkey and West Africa. While it is prohibited in France for the government census to collect data on religious beliefs, estimates and polls place the percentage of Muslims at between 4% and 7%.

Judaism:

The current Jewish community in France numbers around 600,000, according to the World Jewish Congress and 500,000 according to the Appel Unifié Juif de France, and is found mainly in the metropolitan areas of Paris, Marseille and Strasbourg.

The history of the Jews in France dates back over 2,000 years. In the early Middle Ages, France was a center of Jewish learning, but persecution increased as the Middle Ages wore on. France was the first country in Europe to emancipate its Jewish population during the French Revolution, but despite legal equality anti-Semitism remained an issue, as illustrated in the Dreyfus affair of the late 19th century. However, through the 1870 Décret Crémieux, France secured full citizenship for the Jews in then French-ruled Algeria. Despite the death of a quarter of all French Jews during the Holocaust, France currently has the largest Jewish population in Europe.

French Jews are mostly Sephardic and span a range of religious affiliations, from the ultra-Orthodox Haredi communities to the large segment of Jews who are entirely secular.

Buddhism:

Buddhism is widely reported to be the fourth largest religion in France, after Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. France has over two hundred Buddhist meditation centers, including about twenty sizable retreat centers in rural areas. The Buddhist population mainly consists of Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants, with a substantial minority of native French converts and “sympathizers”. The rising popularity of Buddhism in France has been the subject of considerable discussion in the French media and academy in recent years.

Cults and new religious movements:

France created in 2006 the first French parliamentary commission on cult activities which led to a report registering a number of cults considered as dangerous. Supporters of such movements have criticized the report on the grounds of the respect of religious freedom. Proponents of the measure contend that only dangerous cults have been listed as such, and state secularism ensures religious freedom in France.

Regional customs and traditions:

Modern France is the result of centuries of nation building and the acquisition and incorporation of a number of historical provinces and overseas colonies into its geographical and political structure. These regions all evolved with their own specific cultural and linguistic traditions in fashion, religious observance, regional language and accent, family structure, cuisine, leisure activities, industry, etc.

The evolution of the French state and culture, from the Renaissance to today, has however promoted a centralization of politics, media and cultural production in and around Paris (and, to a lesser extent, around the other major urban centers), and the industrialization of the country in the 20th century has led to a massive move of French people from the countryside to urban areas. At the end of the 19th century, around 50% of the French depended on the land for a living; today French farmers only make up 6-7%, while 73% live in cities. Nineteenth century French literature abounds in scenes of provincial youth “coming up” to Paris to “make it” in the cultural, political or social scene of the capital (this scheme is frequent in the novels of Balzac). Policies enacted by the French Third Republic also encouraged this displacement through mandatory military service, a centralized national educational system, and suppression of regional languages. While government policy and public debate in France in recent years has returned to a valorization of regional differences and a call for decentralization of certain aspects of the public sphere (sometimes with ethnic, racial or reactionary overtones), the history of regional displacement and the nature of the modern urban environment and of mass media and culture have made the preservation of a regional “sense of place or culture” in today’s France extremely difficult.

The names of the historical French provinces — such as Brittany (Bretagne), Berry, Orléanais, Normandy (Normandie), Languedoc, Lyonnais, Dauphiné, Champagne, Poitou, Guyenne and Gascony (Gascogne), Burgundy (Bourgogne), Picardy (Picardie), Provence, Touraine, Limousin, Auvergne, Béarn, Alsace, Flanders, Lorraine, Corsica (Corse), Savoy (Savoie) — are still used to designate natural, historical and cultural regions, and many of them appear in modern région or département names. These names are also used by the French in their self-identification of family origin.

Regional identification is most pronounced today in cultures linked to regional languages and non-French-speaking traditions – French language itself being only a dialect of Langue d’oïl, the mother language of many of the languages to-be-mentioned, which became a national vehicular language, like (in alphabetical order): Alsatian, Arpitan, Basque, Brezhoneg (Breton), Burgundian, Corsu (Corsican), Català (Catalan), Francique, Gallo, Lorrain, Norman, Occitan, Picard, Poitevin, Saintongeais,etc., and some of these regions have promoted movements calling for some degree of regional autonomy, and, occasionally, national independence.

There are huge differences in life style, socioeconomic status and world view between Paris and the provinces. The French often use the expression “la France profonde” (“Deep France”, similar to “heartland”) to designate the profoundly “French” aspects of provincial towns, village life and rural agricultural culture, which escape the hegemony of Paris. The expression can however have a pejorative meaning, similar to the expression “le désert français” (“the French desert”) used to describe a lack of acculturation of the provinces. Another expression, “terroir” is a French term originally used for wine and coffee to denote the special characteristics that geography bestowed upon these products. It can be very loosely translated as “a sense of place” which is embodied in certain qualities, and the sum of the effects that the local environment (especially the “soil”) has had on the growth of the product. The use of the term has since been generalized to talk about many cultural products.

In addition to its metropolitan territory, France also consists of overseas departments made up of its former colonies of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guiana in the Caribbean, and Mayotte and Réunion in the Indian Ocean. (There also exist a number of “overseas collectivities” and “overseas territories”. For a full discussion, see administrative divisions of France. Since 1982, following the French government’s policy of decentralisation, overseas departments have elected regional councils with powers similar to those of the regions of metropolitan France. As a result of a constitutional revision which occurred in 2003, these regions are now to be called overseas regions.) These overseas departments have the same political status as metropolitan departments and are integral parts of France, (similar to the way in which Hawaii is a state and an integral part of the United States), yet they also have specific cultural and linguistic traditions which set them apart. Certain elements of overseas culture have also been introduced to metropolitan culture (as, for example, the musical form the biguine).

Industrialization, immigration and urbanization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries have also created new socioeconomic regional communities in France, both urban (like Paris, Lyon, Villeurbanne, Lille, Marseille, etc.) and the suburban and working class hinterlands (like Seine-Saint-Denis) of urban agglomerations (called variously banlieues (“suburbs”, sometimes qualified as “chic” or “pauvres”) or les cités (“housing projects”) which have developed their own “sense of place” and local culture (much like the various boroughs of New York City or suburbs of Los Angeles), as well as cultural identity.

Other specific communities:

Paris has traditionally been associated with alternative, artistic or intellectual subcultures, many of which involved american foreigners. Such subcultures include the “Bohemians” of the mid-nineteenth century, the Impressionists, artistic circles of the Belle époque (around such artists as Picasso and Alfred Jarry), the Dadaists, Surrealists, the “Lost Generation” (Hemingway, Gertrude Stein) and the post-war “intellectuals” associated with Montparnasse (Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir).

France has an estimated 280,000-340,000 Roma, generally known as Gitans, Tsiganes, Romanichels (slightly pejorative), Bohémiens, or Gens du voyage (“travellers”).

There are gay and lesbian communities in the cities, particularly in the Paris metropolitan area (such as in Le Marais district of the capital). Although homosexuality is perhaps not as well tolerated in France as in American, Canada, Spain, Scandinavia, and the Benelux nations, surveys of the French public reveal a considerable shift in attitudes comparable to other Western European nations. As of 2001, 55% of the French consider homosexuality “an acceptable lifestyle.” The current mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoë, is gay. In 2006, an Ipsos survey shows that 62% support same-sex marriage, while 37% were opposed. 55% believed gay and lesbian couples should not have parenting rights, while 44% believe same-sex couples should be able to adopt.

Social class:

Despite the egalitarian aspects of French society, French culture remains marked by social-economic class and by many class distinctions.

Household structure:

Growing out of the values of the Catholic Church and rural communities, the basic unit of French society was traditionally held to be the family. Over the twentieth century, the “traditional” family structure in France has evolved from extended families to, after World War II, nuclear families. Since the 1960s, marriages have decreased and divorces have increased in France, and divorce law and legal family status have evolved to reflect these social changes.

According to INSEE figures, household and family composition in metropolitan France continues to evolve. Most significantly, from 1982 to 1999, single parent families have increased from 3.6% to 7.4%; there have also been increases in the number of unmarried couples, childless couples, and single men (from 8.5% to 12.5) and women (from 16.0% to 18.5%). Their analysis indicates that “one in three dwellings are occupied by a person living alone; one in four dwellings are occupied by a childless couple..”

Voted by the French Parliament in November 1999 following some controversy, the pacte civil de solidarité (“civil pact of solidarity”) commonly known as a PACS, is a form of civil union between two adults (same-sex or opposite-sex) for organizing their joint life. It brings rights and responsibilities, but less so than marriage. From a legal standpoint, a PACS is a “contract” drawn up between the two individuals, which is stamped and registered by the clerk of the court. Individuals who have registered a PACS are still considered “single” with regard to family status for some purposes, while they are increasingly considered in the same way as married couples are for other purposes. While it was pushed by the government of Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in 1998, it was also opposed, mostly by people on the right-wing who support traditionalist family values and who argued that PACS and the recognition of homosexual unions would be disastrous for French society.

Currently, same-sex marriage is legally recognized in France. However, same sex marriage was a large contributing factor in the presidential election of 2012 between Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy, who represents the right-wing UMP party opposed gay marriage, while Francois Hollande, of the left wing socialist party (France) supported it. Hollande was elected in May 2012 and the French legislative branch is currently in the process of writing and enacting a law for same-sex marriage.

Role of the State:

The French state has traditionally played an important role in promoting and supporting culture through the educational, linguistic, cultural and economic policies of the government and through its promotion of national identity. Because of the closeness of this relationship, cultural changes in France are often linked to, or produce, political crisis.

The relationship between the French state and culture is an old one. Under Louis XIII’s minister Richelieu, the independent Académie française came under state supervision and became an official organ of control over the French language and seventeenth-century literature. During Louis XIV’s reign, his minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert brought French luxury industries, like textile and porcelain, under royal control and the architecture, furniture, fashion and etiquette of the royal court (particularly at the Château de Versailles) became the preeminent model of noble culture in France (and, to a great degree, throughout Europe) during the latter half of the seventeenth century.

At times, French state policies have sought to unify the country around certain cultural norms, while at other times they have promoted regional differences within a heterogeneous French identity. The unifying effect was particularly true of the “radical period”” of the French Third Republic which fought regionalisms (including regional languages), supported anti-clericalism and a strict separation of church from state (including education) and actively promoted national identity, thus converting (as the historian Eugen Weber has put it) a “country of peasants into a nation of Frenchmen”. The Vichy Regime, on the other hand, promoted regional “folk” traditions.

The cultural policies of the (current) French Fifth Republic have been varied, but a consensus seems to exist around the need for preservation of French regionalisms (such as food and language) as long as these don’t undermine national identity. Meanwhile, the French state remains ambivalent over the integration into “French” culture of cultural traditions from recent immigrant groups and from foreign cultures, particularly American culture (movies, music, fashion, fast food, language, etc.). There also exists a certain fear over the perceived loss of French identity and culture in the European system and under American “cultural hegemony”.

Education:

The French educational system is highly centralised. It is divided into three different stages: primary education, or enseignement primaire, corresponding to grade school in the United States; secondary education, or collège and lycée, corresponding to middle and high school in the United States; and higher education (l’université or les Grandes écoles).

Primary and secondary education is predominantly public (private schools also exist, in particular a strong nationwide network of primary and secondary Catholic education), while higher education has both public and private elements. At the end of secondary education, students take the baccalauréat exam, which allows them to pursue higher education. The baccalauréat pass rate in 2012 was 84.5%.

In 1999–2000, educational spending amounted to 7% of the French GDP and 37% of the national budget.

France’s performance in math and science at the middle school level was ranked 23 in the 1995 Trends in International Math and Science Study.

Since the Jules Ferry laws of 1881-2, named after the then Minister of Public Instruction, all state-funded schools, including universities, are independent from the (Roman Catholic) Church. Education in these institutions is free. Non-secular institutions are allowed to organize education as well. The French educational system differs strongly from Northern-European and American systems in that it stresses the importance of partaking in a society as opposed to being responsibly independent.

Secular educational policy has become critical in recent issues of French multiculturalism, as in the “affair of the Islamic headscarf”.

Minister of Culture:

The Minister of Culture is in the Government of France, the cabinet member in charge of national museums and monuments; promoting and protecting the arts (visual, plastic, theatrical, musical, dance, architectural, literary, televisual and cinematographic) in France and abroad; and managing the national archives and regional “maisons de culture” (culture centres). The Ministry of Culture is located on the Palais Royal in Paris.

The modern post of Minister of Culture was created by Charles de Gaulle in 1959 and the first Minister was the writer André Malraux. Malraux was responsible for realizing the goals of the “droit à la culture” (“the right to culture”) — an idea which had been incorporated in the French constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) — by democratizing access to culture, while also achieving the Gaullist aim of elevating the “grandeur” (“greatness”) of post-war France. To this end, he created numerous regional cultural centres throughout France and actively sponsored the arts. Malraux’s artistic tastes included the modern arts and the avant-garde, but on the whole he remained conservative.

The Ministry of Jacques Toubon was notable for a number of laws (the “Toubon Laws”) enacted for the preservation of the French language, both in advertisements (all ads must include a French translation of foreign words) and on the radio (40% of songs on French radio stations must be in French), ostensibly in reaction to the presence of English.

Académie française:

The Académie française, or the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution, it was restored in 1803 by Napoleon Bonaparte (the Académie considers itself having been suspended, not suppressed, during the revolution). It is the oldest of the five académies of the Institut de France.

The Académie consists of forty members, known as immortels (immortals). New members are elected by the members of the Académie itself. Académicians hold office for life, but they may be removed for misconduct. The body has the task of acting as an official authority on the language; it is charged with publishing an official dictionary of the language. Its rulings, however, are only advisory; not binding on either the public or the government.

Military service:

Until 1996, France had compulsory military service of young men. This has been credited by historians for further promoting a unified national identity and by breaking down regional isolationism.

Labor and employment policy:

In France, the first labour laws were Waldeck Rousseau’s laws passed in 1884. Between 1936 and 1938 the Popular Front enacted a law mandating 12 days (2 weeks) each year of paid vacation for workers, and a law limiting the work week to 40 hours, excluding overtime. The Grenelle accords negotiated on May 25 and 26th in the middle of the May 1968 crisis, reduced the working week to 44 hours and created trade union sections in each enterprise. The minimum wage was also increased by 25%. In 2000 Lionel Jospin’s government then enacted the 35-hour workweek, down from 39 hours. Five years later, conservative prime minister Dominique de Villepin enacted the New Employment Contract (CNE). Addressing the demands of employers asking for more flexibility in French labour laws, the CNE sparked criticism from trade unions and opponents claiming it was lending favour to contingent work. In 2006 he then attempted to pass the First Employment Contract (CPE) through a vote by emergency procedure, but that it was met by students and unions’ protests. President Jacques Chirac finally had no choice but to repeal it.

Healthcare and social welfare:

The French are profoundly committed to the public healthcare system (called “sécurité sociale”) and to their “pay-as-you-go” social welfare system.

In 1998, 75% of health payments in France were paid through the public healthcare system. Since 27 July 1999, France has a universal medical coverage for permanent residents in France (stable residence for more than three months). Using five performance indicators to measure health systems in 191 member states, it finds that France provides the best overall health care followed among major countries by Italy, Spain, Oman, Austria and Japan (The World Health Report).

Lifestyle:

Traditional French culture places a high priority on the enjoyment of food, while not actually eating a sustaining portion. French cuisine was codified in the 20th century by Georges Auguste Escoffier to become the modern version of haute cuisine. Escoffier’s major work, however, left out much of the regional character to be found in the provinces of France. Gastro-tourism and the Guide Michelin helped to bring people to the countryside during the 20th century and beyond, to sample this rich bourgeois and peasant cuisine of France. Basque cuisine has also been a great influence over the cuisine in the southwest of France.

Ingredients and dishes vary by region. There are many significant regional dishes that have become both national and regional. Many dishes that were once regional, however, have proliferated in different variations across the country in the present day. Cheese and wine are also a major part of the cuisine, playing different roles both regionally and nationally with their many variations and Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) (regulated appellation) laws, (lentils from Le Puy-en-Velay also have an AOC status). Another French product of special note is the Charolais cattle.

The French typically eat only a simple breakfast (“petit déjeuner”) which consists of coffee or tea, served traditionally in a large handleless “bol” (bowl) and bread or breakfast pastries (croissants). Lunch (“déjeuner”) and dinner (“dîner”) are the main meals of the day. Formal four course meals consist of a starter course (“entrée”), a salad, a main course (“plat principal”), and finally a cheese or dessert course. While French cuisine is often associated with rich desserts, in most homes dessert consists of only fruit and / or yogurt.

Food shopping in France was formerly done almost daily in small local shops and markets, but the arrival of the supermarket and the even larger “hypermarchés” (large-surface distributors) in France have disrupted this tradition. With depopulation of the countryside, many towns have been forced to close shops and markets.

Rates of obesity and heart disease in France have traditionally been lower than in other north-western European countries. This is sometimes called the French paradox. French cuisine and eating habits have however come under great pressure in recent years from modern fast food, American products and the new global agricultural industry. While French youth culture has gravitated toward fast food and American eating habits (with an attendant rise in obesity), the French in general have remained committed to preserving certain elements of their food culture through such activities as including programs of taste acquisition in their public schools, by the use of the appellation d’origine contrôlée laws, and by state and European subsides to the French agricultural industry. Emblematic of these tensions is the work of José Bové, who founded in 1987, the Confédération Paysanne, an agricultural union that places its highest political values on humans and the environment, promotes organic farming and opposes genetically modified organisms; Bové’s most famous protest was the dismantling of a McDonald’s franchise in Millau (Aveyron), in 1999.

In France, cutlery is used in the continental manner (with the fork in the left hand, prongs facing down and the knife in the right hand). French etiquette prohibits the placing of hands below the table and the placing of elbows on it.

The legal drinking age is officially 18 .

France is one of the oldest wine producing regions of Europe. France now produces the most wine by value in the world (although Italy rivals it by volume and Spain has more land under cultivation for wine grapes). Bordeaux wine, Bourgogne wine and Champagne are important agricultural products.

Tobacco and drugs:

The cigarette smoking age is 18 years. According to a widespread cliché, smoking has been part of French culture — actually figures indicate that in terms of consumption per capita, France is only the 60th country out of 121.

France, from 1 February 2007, tightened the existing ban on smoking in public places found in the 1991 (although you couldn’t tell by visiting) Évin law: Law n°91-32 of 10 January, 1991, containing a variety of measures against alcoholism and tobacco consumption.

Smoking is now banned in all public places (stations, museums, etc.); an exception exists for special smoking rooms fulfilling drastic conditions, see below. A special exemption was made for cafés and restaurants, clubs, casinos, bars, etc. which ended, 1 January 2008. Opinion polls suggest 70% of people support the ban.Previously, under the former implementation rules of the 1991 Évin law, restaurants, cafés etc. just had to provide smoking and non-smoking sections, which in practice were often not well separated.

Under the new regulations, smoking rooms are allowed, but are subjected to very strict conditions: they may occupy at most 20% of the total floor space of the establishment and their size may not be more than 35 m²; they need to be equipped with separate ventilation which replaces the full volume of air ten times per hour; the air pressure of the smoking room must constantly be lower than the pressure in the contiguous rooms; they have doors that close automatically; no service can be provided in the smoking rooms; cleaning and maintenance personnel may enter the room only one hour after it was last used for smoking.

Popular French cigarette brands include Gauloises and Gitanes.

The possession, sale and use of cannabis (predominantly Moroccan hashish) is illegal in France. Since 1 March 1994, the penalties for cannabis use are from two months to a year and/or a fine, while possession, cultivation or trafficking of the drug can be punished much more severely, up to ten years. According to a 1992 survey by SOFRES, 4.7 million French people ages 12–44 have smoked cannabis at least once in their lives.

Sports and hobbies:

Football (French: Le Foot) is the most popular sport in France. Other popular sports played in France are rugby union, cycling, tennis, handball, basketball and sailing. France is notable for holding and winning the FIFA World Cup in 1998, and holding the annual cycling race Tour de France, and the tennis Grand Slam tournament the French Open. Sport is encouraged in school, and local sports clubs receive financial support from the local governments. While football is definitely the most popular, rugby union and rugby league takes dominance in the southwest, especially around the city of Toulouse.

The modern Olympics was invented in France, in 1894 by Pierre de Coubertin.

Professional sailing in France is centred on singlehanded and shorthanded ocean racing with the pinnacle of this branch of the sport being the Vendee Globe singlehanded around the world race which starts every 4 years from the French Atlantic coast. Other significant events include the Solitaire du Figaro, Mini Transat 6.50, Tour de France a Voile and Route du Rhum transatlantic race. France has been a regular competitor in the America’s Cup since the 1970s.

Important sports include:

24 Hours of Le Mans – The world’s oldest sports car race.
Skiing – France has an extensive number of ski resorts in the French alps such as Tignes. Ski resorts are also located in the Pyrénées and Vosges mountain chains.
Pétanque – The international federation is recognized by the IOC.
Fencing – Fencing leads the list of sports for which gold medals were won for France at the Summer Olympics (see: France at the Olympics).
Parkour – Developed in France, Parkour is a training discipline with similarities to self-defense or martial arts.
Babyfoot (table football) – A very popular pastime in bars and homes in France, and the French are the predominant winners of worldwide table football competitions.
Kitesurfing
Like other cultural areas in France, sport is overseen by a government ministry, the Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports (France) which is in charge of national and public sport associations, youth affairs, public sports centers and national stadia (like the Stade de France).

Fashion:

Paris is the leading capital of fashion and design. Along with Milan, London and New York, Paris is center of an important number of fashion shows. Some of the world’s biggest fashion houses (ex: Chanel) have their headquarters in France.

The association of France with fashion (French: la mode) dates largely to the reign of Louis XIV when the luxury goods industries in France came increasingly under royal control and the French royal court became, arguably, the arbiter of taste and style in Europe.

France renewed its dominance of the high fashion (French: couture or haute couture) industry in the years 1860–1960 through the establishing of the great couturier houses, the fashion press (Vogue was founded in 1892; Elle was founded in 1945) and fashion shows. The first modern Parisian couturier house is generally considered the work of the Englishman Charles Frederick Worth who dominated the industry from 1858-1895. In the early twentieth century, the industry expanded through such Parisian fashion houses as the house of Chanel (which first came to prominence in 1925) and Balenciaga (founded by a Spaniard in 1937). In the post war year, fashion returned to prominence through Christian Dior’s famous “new look” in 1947, and through the houses of Pierre Balmain and Hubert de Givenchy (opened in 1952). In the 1960s, “high fashion” came under criticism from France’s youth culture while designers like Yves Saint Laurent broke with established high fashion norms by launching prêt-à-porter (“ready to wear”) lines and expanding French fashion into mass manufacturing and marketing. Further innovations were carried out by Paco Rabanne and Pierre Cardin. With a greater focus on marketing and manufacturing, new trends were established in the 70s and 80s by Sonia Rykiel, Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Jean-Paul Gaultier and Christian Lacroix. The 1990s saw a conglomeration of many French couture houses under luxury giants and multinationals such as LVMH.

Since the 1960s, France’s fashion industry has come under increasing competition from London, New York, Milan and Tokyo, and the French have increasingly adopted foreign (particularly American) fashions (such as jeans, tennis shoes). Nevertheless, many foreign designers still seek to make their careers in France.

Pets:

In 2006, 52% of French households had at least one pet: In total, 9.7 million cats, 8.8 million dogs, 2.3 million rodents, 8 million birds, and 28 million fish were kept as pets in France during this year.

Art and museums:

The first paintings of France are those that are from prehistoric times, painted in the caves of Lascaux well over 10,000 years ago. The arts were already flourishing 1,200 years ago, at the time of Charlemagne, as can be seen in many hand made and hand illustrated books of that time.

Classic painters of the 17th century in France are Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain. During the 18th century the Rococo style emerged as a frivolous continuation of the Baroque style. The most famous painters of the era were Antoine Watteau, François Boucher and Jean-Honoré Fragonard. At the end of the century, Jacques-Louis David and Dominique Ingres were the most influential painters of the Neoclassicism.

Géricault and Delacroix were the most important painters of the Romanticism. Afterwards, the painters were more realistic, describing nature (Barbizon school). The realistic movement was led by Courbet and Honoré Daumier. Impressionism was developed in France by artists such as Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro. At the turn of the century, France had become more than ever the center of innovative art. The Spaniard Pablo Picasso came to France, like many other foreign artists, to deploy his talents there for decades to come. Toulouse-Lautrec, Gauguin and Cézanne were painting then. Cubism is an avant-garde movement born in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Louvre in Paris is one of the most famous and the largest art museums in the world, created by the new revolutionary regime in 1793 in the former royal palace. It holds a vast amount of art of French and other artists, e.g. the Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, and classical Greek Venus de Milo and ancient works of culture and art from Egypt and the Middle East.

Music:

France boasts a wide variety of indigenous folk music, as well as styles played by immigrants from Africa, Latin America and Asia. In the field of classical music, France has produced a number of legendary composers, like Gabriel Faure, while modern pop music has seen the rise of popular French hip hop, French rock, techno/funk, and turntablists/djs.

The Fête de la Musique was created in France (first held in 1982), a music festival, which has since become worldwide. It takes place every June 21, on the first day of summer.

Cinema:

France is the birthplace of cinema and was responsible for many of its early significant contributions. Several important cinematic movements, including the Nouvelle Vague, began in the country, long ago.

Additionally, France is an important Francophone film production country. A certain amount of the movies created share international distribution in the western hemisphere thanks to Unifrance. Although French cinema industry is rather small in terms of budget and revenues, it enjoys qualitative screenplay, cast and story telling. French Cinema is often portrayed as more liberal in terms of subjects (Sex, Society, Politics, Historical) and therefore often gets critical acclaim. Within the domestic market, French movies are ranked through n° of entries. Movies are premiered on Wednesdays.

Most famous genres are:

– Romantic Drama Heartbreaker (l’Arnacoeur)
– Comedy Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (les Visiteurs) (la Cité de la Peur) (La grande Vadrouille)
– Society La Haine
– Historical Cyrano de Bergerac
– Political / Animation: Persepolis
French actors appear and star in Hollywood productions, such as Vincent Cassel and Marion Cotillard.

“Going to the movies” is a popular activity within metropolitan areas. Many cinema operators offer a “flat-rate pass” for approx. 30€ per month. Prices per movie range Between 5€50 to 10€.

French major cinema operators are UGC and Pathé, mainly located in city suburbs due to the number of screens and seating capacity.

Within France many “small” cinemas are located in the downtown parts of a city, resisting the big cinema operators nationwide. Another element is that Paris has the highest density of cinemas (movie theaters) in the world: biggest number of movie theaters per inhabitants, and that in most “downtown Paris” movie theaters, foreign movies which would be secluded to “art houses” cinemas in other places, are shown alongside “mainstream” works as Parisians are avid movie-goers. Proximity of restaurants, accessibility, ambiance and the showing of alternative foreign movies is often cited as being the advantage of these small theaters.

The Cinémathèque Française holds one of the largest archives of films, movie documents and film-related objects in the world. Located in Paris, the Cinémathèque holds daily screenings of films unrestricted by country of origin.

Books, newspapers and magazines:

France has the reputation of being a “literary culture”, and this image is reinforced by such things as the importance of French literature in the French educational system, the attention paid by the French media to French book fairs and book prizes (like the Prix Goncourt, Prix Renaudot or Prix Femina) and by the popular success of the (former) literary television show “Apostrophes” (hosted by Bernard Pivot).

Although the official literacy rate of France is 99%, some estimates have placed functional illiteracy at between 10% and 20% of the adult population (and higher in the prison population).

While reading remains a favorite pastime of French youth today, surveys show that it has decreased in importance compared to music, television, sports and other activities. The crisis of academic publishing has also hit France (see, for example, the financial difficulties of the Presses universitaires de France (PUF), France’s premier academic publishing house, in the 1990s).

Literary taste in France remains centered on the novel (26.4% of book sales in 1997), although the French read more non-fiction essays and books on current affairs than the British or Americans. Contemporary novels, including French translations of foreign novels, lead the list (13% of total books sold), followed by sentimental novels (4.1%), detective and spy fiction (3.7%), “classic” literature (3.5%), science fiction and horror (1.3%) and erotic fiction (0.2%). About 30% of all fiction sold in France today is translated from English (authors such as William Boyd, John le Carré, Ian McEwan, Paul Auster and Douglas Kennedy are well received).

An important subset of book sales is comic books (typically Franco-Belgian comics like Tintin and Astérix) which are published in a large hardback format; comic books represented 4% of total book sales in 1997. French artists have made the country a leader in the graphic novel genre and France hosts the Angoulême International Comics Festival, Europe’s preeminent comics festival.

Like other areas of French culture, book culture is influenced, in part, by the state, in particular by the “Direction du livre et de la lecture” of the Ministry of Culture, which oversees the “Centre national du livre” (National Book Center). The French Ministry of Industry also plays a role in price control. Finally, the VAT for books and other cultural products in France is at the reduced rate of 5.5%, which is also that of food and other necessities.

In terms of journalism in France, the regional press (see list of newspapers in France) has become more important than national dailies (such as Le Monde and Le Figaro) over the past century: in 1939, national dailies were 2/3 of the dailies market, while today they are less than 1/4. The magazine market is currently dominated by TV listings magazines followed by news magazines such as Le Nouvel Observateur, L’Express and Le Point.

Architecture and housing:

There are significant differences in lifestyles with respect to transportation between very urbanized regions such as Paris, and smaller towns and rural areas. In Paris, and to a lesser extent in other major cities, many households do not own an automobile and simply use mass transportation.The cliché about the parisien is rush hour in the Métro subway. However, outside of such areas, ownership of one or more cars is standard, especially for households with children.

The TGV high speed rail network, train à grande vitesse is a fast rail transport which serves several areas of the country and is self-financing. There are plans to reach most parts of France and many other destinations in Europe in coming years. Rail services to major destinations are punctual and frequent.

Holidays:

Despite the principles of laïcité and the separation of church from state, public and school holidays in France generally follow the Roman Catholic religious calendar (including Easter, Christmas, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Assumption of Mary, All Saints Day, etc.). Labor Day and the National Holiday are the only business holidays determined by government statute; the other holidays are granted by convention collective (agreement between employers’ and employees’ unions) or by agreement of the employer.

The five holiday periods of the public school year are:

the vacances de la Toussaint (All Saints Day) – one and a half weeks starting near the end of October.
the vacances de Noël (Christmas) – two weeks, ending after New Years.
the vacances d’hiver (winter) – two weeks in February and March.
the vacances de printemps (spring), formerly vacances de Pâques (Easter) – two weeks in April and May.
the vacances d’été (summer), or grandes vacances (literally: big holidays) – two months in July and August.
On May 1, Labour Day (La Fête du Travail) the French give flowers of Lily of the Valley (Le Muguet) to one another.

The National holiday (called Bastille Day in English) is on the 14 of July. Military parades, called Défilés du 14 juillet, are held, the largest on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic.

On November 2, All Souls Day (La Fête des morts), the French traditionally bring chrysanthemums to the tombs of departed family members.

On November 11, Remembrance Day (Le Jour de la Commémoration or L’ Armistice) is an official holiday.

Christmas is generally celebrated in France on Christmas Eve by a traditional meal (typical dishes include oysters, boudin blanc and the bûche de Noël), by opening presents and by attending the midnight mass (even among Catholics who do not attend church at other times of the year).

Candlemas (La Chandeleur) is celebrated with crêpes. The popular saying is that if the cook can flip a crêpe singlehandedly with a coin in the other hand, the family is assured of prosperity throughout the coming year.

The Anglo-Saxon and American holiday Halloween has grown in popularity following its introduction in the mid-1990s by the trade associations. The growth seems to have stalled during the following decade.

Conventions:

France is the home of the International System of Units (the metric system). Some pre-metric units are still used, essentially the livre (a unit of weight equal to half a kilogram) and the quintal (a unit of weight equal to 100 kilograms).
In mathematics, France uses the infix notation like most countries. For large numbers the long scale is used. Thus, the French use the word billion for the number 1,000,000,000,000, which in countries using short scale is called a trillion. However, there exists a French word, milliard, for the number 1,000,000,000, which in countries using the short scale is called a billion. Thus, despite the use of the long scale, one billion is called un milliard (“one milliard”) in French, and not mille millions (“one thousand million”). It should also be noted that names of numbers above the milliard are rarely used. Thus, one trillion will most often be called mille milliards (“one thousand milliard”) in French, and rarely un billion.
In the French numeral notation, the comma (,) is the decimal separator, whereas a space is used between each group of three digits (fifteen million five hundred thousand and thirty-two should be written as 15 500 032). In finance, the currency symbol is used as a decimal separator or put after the number. For example, €25,048.05 is written either 25 048€05 or 25 048,05 € (always with an extra space between the figure and the currency symbol).
In computing, a bit is called a bit yet a byte is called an octet[44] (from the Latin root octo, meaning “8”). SI prefixes are used.
24-hour clock time is used, with h being the separator between hours and minutes (for example 2:30 pm is 14h30).
The all-numeric form for dates is in the order day-month-year, using a slash as the separator (example: 31/12/1992 or 31/12/92).

Architecture of Normandy
Catherinettes
Demographics of France
Remarkable Gardens of France
List of French people
List of World Heritage Sites in France

References / sources:

Bernstein, Richard. Fragile Glory: A Portrait of France and the French. Plume, 1991.
Carroll, Raymonde. Carol Volk, translator. Cultural Misunderstandings: The French-American Experience. University of Chicago Press, 1990.
Darnton, Robert. The Great Cat Massacre and Other Episodes in French Cultural History. Vintage, 1984. ISBN 0-394-72927-7
Dauncey, Hugh, ed. French Popular Culture: An Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2003.
DeJean, Joan. The Essence of Style: How The French INvented High Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafés, Style, Sophistication, and Glamour. New York: Free Press, 2005. ISBN 978-0-7432-6413-6
Forbes, Jill and Michael Kelly, eds. French Cultural Studies: An Introduction. Clarendon Press, 1996. ISBN 0-19-871501-3
Girod, André. ” French-American class: It’s a long way to France” Redleadbooks
Gopnik, Adam. Paris to the Moon. Random House, 2001.
Hall, Edward Twitchell and Mildred Reed Hall. Understanding Cultural Differences: Germans, French and Americans. Intercultural Press, 1990.
Howarth, David and Georgios Varouzakis. Contemporary France: An Introduction to French Politics and Society. New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2003. ISBN 0-340-74187-2
Kelly, Michael. French Culture and Society: The Essentials. New York: Oxford University Press (Arnold Publishers), 2001. (A Reference Guide)
Kidd, William and Siân Reynolds, eds. Contemporary French Cultural Studies. Arnold Publishers, 2000. ISBN 0-340-74050-7
Marmer, Nancy, “Out of Paris: Decentralizing French Art,” Art in America, September 1986, pp. 124–137, 155-157.
Nadeau, Jean-Benoît and Julie Barlow. Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong: Why We Love France But Not The French. Sourcebooks Trade, 2003. ISBN 1-4022-0045-5
Robb, Graham. The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography, from the Revolution to the First World War. New York: Norton, 2007. ISBN 978-0-393-05973-1
(French) Wylie, Laurence and Jean-François Brière. Les Français. 3rd edition. Prentice Hall, 2001.
Zedlin, Theodore and Philippe Turner, eds. The French. Kodansha International, 1996.
Notes[edit]|]edit source]

Jary, D. and J. Jary. 1991. The HarperCollins Dictionary of Sociology, page 101.
Hoult, T. F, ed. 1969. Dictionary of Modern Sociology, p. 93.
Thompson, William; Joseph Hickey (2005). Society in Focus’. Boston, MA: Pearson. ISBN 0-205-41365-X.
see, for example, Jonathan Fenby: On the Brink; the Trouble with France Warner Books London, 1998
Aïcha Saïd Ben Mohamed (1876 – 1930) was born in Kabylie, Généalogie Magazine, N° 233, p. 30/36
Le Point, February 8, 2007
“One in three French ‘are racist'”. BBC News. 2006-03-22. Retrieved 2006-05-03.
Article 75-1: (a new article): “Les langues régionales appartiennent au patrimoine de la France” (“Regional languages belong to the patrimony of France”). See Loi constitutionnelle du 23 juillet 2008.
(Romanian) Franţa nu mai e o ţară catolică (France is no longer a Catholic country), Cotidianul, 2007-01-11; “France ‘no longer a Catholic country'”, Daily Telegraph, 10 January 2007
Religion Important for Americans, Italians, Angus Reid Global Monitor, December 30, 2006
Kidd and Reynolds, 104-5.
Kidd and Reynolds, for example, give a figure of 4 million Muslims, or 6.9%, based on sources dated 1993, 1994, 1999. (102). See Islam in France for more on recent estimates.
Kidd and Reynolds, 30-31.
Embassy of France in the US – The PACS – A civil solidarity pact
Gay News From 365Gay.com
Kelley, “Family”, 100.
Ibid.
http://www.insee.fr/en/ffc/chifcle_fiche.asp?ref_id=NATTEF02313&tab_id=31
Kelley, 246-7.
TIMSS 1995 Highlights of Results for the Middle School Years [1]. France has not participated in later TIMSS studies. [2]
fr:section syndicale d’entreprise December 27, 1968 law
fr:SMIG
Decree n°2006-1386 over 15th November, 2006 taken as application of article L3511-7 of the Public Health Code, banning smoking in public places.
“France to ban smoking in public”. BBC News. 2006-10-08. Retrieved 2006-10-09.
http://www.cedro-uva.org/lib/boekhout.france.html
Kelly, 101. DeJean, chapters 2-4.
Kelly, 101.
Dauncey, 195.
Le marché des aliments pour chiens et chats en Belgique. Mission Economique de Bruxelles, 2006. Read this document (in French) PDF
The best of French Music from Famous French Music
Alan Riding (February 28, 1995). “The Birthplace Celebrates Film’s Big 1-0-0”. The New York Times.
20 questions about studying in France |url=http://old.campusfrance.org/en/a-etudier/faq.htm
Theodore Zedlin, quoted in Kidd and Reynolds, 266
^ a b Kidd and Reynolds, 261.
Kidd and Reynolds, 266.
Kidd and Reynolds, 258 and 264.
Kidd and Reynolds, 265.
^ a b Donald Morrison, “The Death of French Culture”, Time, Wednesday Nov. 21, 2007. {http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1686532,00.html}
Kidd and Reynolds, 264.
Kidd and Reynolds, 232.
Kidd and Reynolds, 236
French schoolyear calendar {fr}[3]
International System of Units (SI) – Physics Laboratory
English translation of “Octet” on Reverso
Frenchculture.org
Frenchcultureguide.com – French culture news website
France in Brief / France From A to Z – Embassy of France in the US
National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE)
French Music Culture, the best of French Music from Famous French Music.
Morrison, Don. “The Death of French Culture,” TIME
Chardin’s paintings are just an example of the importance of the French culture in the history of art
French Painters who contributed to the Rococo and Neoclassical period are Boucher, Bouguereau and Jean-Léome Gérôme famous forgotten artists
The French Culture in Lyon

By: Josh Martin

 
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Posted by on July 19, 2013 in art, History, Music Video, Video Blog

 

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Benedictine, a short history and the original recipe.

History:

temp[Benedictine or Benedictine Spread is a condiment made with cucumbers, onions and cream cheese. It is used to make cucumber sandwiches and was invented around the turn of the 20th century by Jennie Carter Benedict, a caterer and restaurateur in Louisville, Kentucky. Benedict opened her restaurant in 1893. It was there that she invented and originally served benedictine. Originally used for sandwiches, benedictine has in recent years been used as a dip for chips and filling for potatoes.

“Louisvillians quiz guests and younger family members on the origin of Benedictine. The famous cucumber spread was, of course, created by one of our city’s most famous residents, Jennie C. Benedict. Setting the highest of culinary standards, “Miss Jennie” was also a successful businesswoman, a writer who for a time served as editor of The Courier-Journal’s Household section, and an important community volunteer.

The University Press of Kentucky has republished Jennie Benedict’s The Blue Ribbon Cook Book, from the fourth edition, 1922.” Susan Reigler, former restaurant critic and travel editor of The C-J, has written the Introduction, and for the first time the recipe for Benedictine Spread is published. The wonder is that it was never included in the other five editions, or in Benedict’s autobiography. Maybe she considered her recipe as secret as Colonel Sanders did his herbs and spices for chicken.

Reigler writes lovingly of her own youth when young ladies wore white gloves and munched cream cheese-and-nut sandwiches, based on Benedict’s concoction, in the restaurant of the old Stewart’s Dry Goods department store. She recounts the influence of recipes on today’s restaurants and home cooks as well.

A close variation of Miss Jennie’s “Stuffed Eggplant” has been on the menu of Simpsonville’s Old Stone Inn for many years. Louisville’s Kathy Cary at Lilly’s serves her own version of Benedictine, as do Chef Matt Weber at the Uptown Café, and Ouita Michel at Holly Hill Inn in Midway. Holly Hill’s sous-chef, Lisa Laufer, supplies her recipe for this book.

Reigler gives an interesting picture of the woman who, in 1893, started a catering business from her home. Benedict soon began defining Louisville’s tastes as she catered parties and weddings of its most prominent citizens and fed the middle class in her tearooms.

Miss Jennie’s menus became musts for Derby Day celebrations. Through the decades her cookbook remains popular. Reigler says, “I had many, many calls from readers trying to locate a copy. …”

The Blue Ribbon Cook Book contains a Glossary that is a cooking lesson in itself. The large sections on “Entrees” and “Desserts” are complemented by interesting advice in “Sick Room Cookery,” and practical kitchen tricks.

Probably the most intriguing recipe of all is that which keeps Miss Jennie’s name on Louisville lips. Here is the version supplied by cookbook author and former Courier-Journal food editor Ronni Lundy. It is the one that Jennie C. Benedict would most likely have included in her book:

Benedictine spread

· 8 ounces of cream cheese, softened
· 3 tablespoons cucumber juice
· 1 tablespoon onion juice
· 1 teaspoon salt
· a few grains of cayenne pepper
· 2 drops green food coloring

To get the juice, peel and grate a cucumber, then wrap in a clean dish towel and squeeze juice into a dish. Discard pulp. Do the same for the onion. Mix all ingredients with a fork until well blended. Using a blender will make the spread too runny.”

20130715-075038.jpg
(Above) The interior of Jennie Benedict’s restaurant at 554 S. Fourth Street in downtown Louisville. The establishment opened in 1900 and was sold in 1925 for $50,000. Benedict was trained in New York by Fanny Farmer.

Weekend Edition Saturday Transcript:

temp[Cream cheese, cucumber juice and a touch of onion. That may sound like an unlikely combination, but Benedictine is a Kentucky favorite. Gwynne Potts, a self-proclaimed aficionado, says it’s delicious.

“The best thing to eat Benedictine on is just white bread,” Potts says. “No special bread; it only takes away from the Benedictine.”

Potts, who grew up in Louisville, Ky., has been enjoying the creamy combo for six decades. And for the first 18 years of her life, she says, Benedictine was like ketchup. She assumed it was eaten everywhere until, as a college student, she took a spring break trip to Florida.

“We couldn’t imagine having lunch without Benedictine,” Potts says. “We went from store to store, saying, ‘Where’s your Benedictine?’ And they just looked at us. It was the first time I realized the whole world didn’t know about Benedictine.”

Years later, that’s still pretty much the case. But this creamy, cool cucumber spread has persisted in Kentucky ever since Jennie Benedict, a famous Louisville caterer, invented it around the turn of the 20th century.

Benedict opened a tearoom on downtown Louisville’s South Fourth Street in 1911. Back then, that was the city’s bustling commercial center, packed with stores, cafes, theaters and hotels. Today, it’s a few boutiques and several wig shops.

Susan Reigler, a former restaurant critic for Louisville’s newspaper, The Courier-Journal, wrote the introduction to the re-release of Benedict’s Blue Ribbon Cook Book in 2008. Reigler says Benedict’s role in the city’s culinary history was huge and that the roots of many of the city’s flavors can be traced back to her recipes.

Of course, some of Benedict’s concoctions have fallen out of favor — like calf brains and peptonized oysters for the sick. But Reigler says Benedictine has endured.

“I think it’s just very different. It’s very refreshing. It’s a light spread,” she says. “What could be more light and delicate than cucumber juice?”

temp[One source of contention among Louisville chefs is whether to include the two drops of green food coloring that Benedict used in her recipe. The dye lets people know that it’s not just a plain cream cheese spread, but the practice is no longer popular with chefs like Kathy Cary, who prefer more natural ingredients. Cary has owned Lilly’s, a restaurant that specializes in Kentucky cuisine, for the past 25 years. For her, the dish is truly a way to showcase both local cucumbers and local traditions.

“Mine is really about … celebrating the cucumbers,” Cary says. “Obviously, no dye, no food coloring. And it’s filled with texture, and sort of the crunch of the cucumbers.”

Some cooks serve Benedictine as a dip, others as tea sandwiches with the crusts cut off. But Cary usually puts hers into a hearty sandwich with homemade mayonnaise, bacon, bibb lettuce and sprouts.

However you serve it, Benedictine is best accompanied with another Kentucky signature: bourbon.

Sources: Wikipedia, NRP.org, The Courier Journal
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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The History of Fathers Day – Video Blog


Video Produced By: iLS TV News

Father’s Day is a celebration honoring fathers and celebrating fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June, but it is also celebrated widely on other days. Father’s Day was created to complement Mother’s Day, a celebration that honors mothers and motherhood.

Father’s Day was inaugurated in the United States in the early 20th century to complement Mother’s Day in celebrating fatherhood and male parenting.

After the success obtained by Anna Jarvis with the promotion of Mother’s Day in the US, some wanted to create similar holidays for other family members, and Father’s Day was the choice most likely to succeed. There were other persons in the US who independently thought of “Father’s Day”, but the credit for the modern holiday is often given to Sonora Dodd, who was the driving force behind its establishment.

Father’s Day was founded in Spokane, Washington at the YMCA in 1910 by Sonora Smart Dodd, who was born in Arkansas. Its first celebration was in the Spokane YMCA on June 19, 1910. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, was a single parent who raised his six children there. After hearing a sermon about Jarvis’ Mother’s Day in 1909, she told her pastor that fathers should have a similar holiday honoring them. Although she initially suggested June 5, her father’s birthday, the pastors did not have enough time to prepare their sermons, and the celebration was deferred to the third Sunday of June.

It did not have much success initially. In the 1920s, Dodd stopped promoting the celebration because she was studying in the Art Institute of Chicago, and it faded into relative obscurity, even in Spokane. In the 1930s Dodd returned to Spokane and started promoting the celebration again, raising awareness at a national level. She had the help of those trade groups that would benefit most from the holiday, for example the manufacturers of ties, tobacco pipes, and any traditional present to fathers. Since 1938 she had the help of the Father’s Day Council, founded by the New York Associated Men’s Wear Retailers to consolidate and systematize the commercial promotion. Americans resisted the holiday during a few decades, perceiving it as just an attempt by merchants to replicate the commercial success of Mother’s Day, and newspapers frequently featured cynical and sarcastic attacks and jokes. But the trade groups did not give up: they kept promoting it and even incorporated the jokes into their adverts, and they eventually succeeded. By the mid 1980s the Father’s Council wrote that “(…) [Father’s Day] has become a ‘Second Christmas’ for all the men’s gift-oriented industries.”

A bill to accord national recognition of the holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson went to Spokane to speak in a Father’s Day celebration and wanted to make it official, but Congress resisted, fearing that it would become commercialized.US President Calvin Coolidge recommended in 1924 that the day be observed by the nation, but stopped short of issuing a national proclamation. Two earlier attempts to formally recognize the holiday had been defeated by Congress. In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus “[singling] out just one of our two parents”. In 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.[14] Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972.

In addition to Father’s Day, International Men’s Day is celebrated in many countries on November 19 for men and boys who are not fathers.

Source: Wikipedia
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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Mazda MX-5 Development Story – Video Blog

tempLightweight sports cars first appeared in the years following the Second World War, but it wasn’t until the 1960s that small, affordable and fun roadsters reached the height of their popularity. By fitting engines from standard sedans into compact and light vehicle bodies, automakers could provide exciting performance and agile handling that was also affordable. The lightweight sports car allowed average Europeans to enjoy exhilarating driving on a daily basis.
tempThe 1970s saw the introduction of much stricter safety and emissions regulations in the US, the world’s largest automobile market. Since most of the lightweight sports cars were open top, they lacked the structural integrity provided by a roof. To meet the regulations, manufacturers instead added large shock absorbing bumpers or extra steel to increase body rigidity, which made the cars much heavier. In order to meet the new emissions regulations, many companies resorted to reducing the engine output. This was a tough period for the lightweight sports car, and as people’s expectations began to diminish, the roadsters disappeared from the market one after another.

In the early 1980s, with the lightweight sports car segment all but extinct, Mazda’s engineers conceived a dream for a modern compact two-seater. One engineer, who would go on to lead the development of the first generation Mazda Miata MX-5, was convinced that Mazda needed a unique product to help it stand out from the other Japanese brands, and passionately appealed to management to build a lightweight roadster.
Eventually, despite significant resistance from some of Mazda’s senior executives, the visionary engineer’s passion convinced the planning department in the R&D Division to take the first step.
Three alternative drive systems
Many different ideas were submitted in the planning phase. Layout proposals included front-wheel drive (FWD), rear-wheel drive (RWD) and even a mid-engine setup. The development team pored over early design sketches, and every aspect was discussed at great length, even as to whether it would be a convertible or a coupe.
Most small sports cars in the 1960s had an engine at the front with rear-wheel drive. By the 1970s, many mass produced vehicles had been switched to front-wheel drive (FWD). Although it went against the traditional concept of a sports car, this layout was much easier to build and provided greater flexibility in terms of engine and drivetrain combinations. The mid-engine layout, in which the engine is positioned near the center of the car and power is transmitted through the rear, shares the same advantages because the FWD engine and drivetrain can easily be carried over.
In order to minimize development and production costs, the best approach would have been to replace the body of a compact FWD car with a new sports car body, or perhaps reposition the engine and drivetrain for a mid-engine layout. Both options would allow the retail price to be kept low, and so provide the best chance for Mazda to bring back the lightweight sports car.
However, the agile handling and a linear driving feel that had made the original lightweight sports cars famous would be almost impossible to achieve without a RWD layout. For Mazda, this meant an entirely new powertrain would have to be developed, which would require a sizeable investment. In the end, despite the added cost, the engineers agreed that they had no choice but to pursue the ideals of a lightweight sports car.

Once the combination of RWD layout and an open-top body had been agreed on, the engineers coined the development concept, “Jinba Ittai” (which means “rider and horse as one”) to express the type of fun-to-drive roadster they intended to build. “Jinba Ittai” continues to symbolize each new generation of MX-5 and ensures that it will always remain true to Mazda’s original dream of a lightweight sports car.

Mazda’s MX-5 roadster is not an imitation of the lightweight sports cars of the 1960s. It is a purely Japanese car that was designed to achieve global appeal. The Japanese phrase “Jinba Ittai” (which means ”rider and horse as one) expresses the essence of Japanese culture that is incorporated in the vehicle.
The development team focused on stripping off everything that was not necessary while maximizing the character of the vehicle. To control unnecessary weight gain, the engineers restrained their desire for greater engine output and more features. While pushing the limits of cost reductions, they were never hesitant to take bold engineering steps and break new ground in the name of “Jinba Ittai.”
Examples of this include the aluminum hood, which lowers the center of gravity and improves steering stability and accuracy. Also, a standard cast iron exhaust pipe was rejected in favor of a stainless steel version in order to achieve an ideal exhaust gas flow. It was clear from the start that this sports car was going to be different.
Demand for improved safety finally drove the original lightweight sports cars of the 1970s to extinction. Achieving the required safety performance while keeping vehicle weight down was just as challenging for the MX-5’s developers. Computer analysis, which had been nonexistent in the 1970s, played a key role in the revival of the lightweight sports car. It is no coincidence that the MX-5 program manager was an expert in vehicle body engineering. By fully utilizing the latest computer analysis technologies, the team managed to build a light and rigid body which met modern safety requirements.
As Japan has a rainy season each year, there are relatively few convertibles on the roads. However, Mazda’s development team chose to remain faithful to the “Jinba Ittai” concept and purposefully picked a manually operated soft top. They also rejected proposals for a 2+2 seat layout in order to concentrate on a pure two-seat roadster. These and other difficult decisions ensured the MX-5 would be as light as possible.
A linear driving feel

The team narrowed down the possible engine choices to a 4-cylinder 16-valve 1.6-liter inline DOHC engine. They decided to stick to natural aspiration, without any turbo or supercharger. The MX-5’s Jinba Ittai-infused fun-to-drive character was realized by neither a surprisingly high output nor advanced engine control technologies.

While keeping mechanical losses and engine resistance as low as possible, the team achieved a smooth engine power curve and linear acceleration up to the rev limit; characteristics that provide an exhilarating experience for the driver.

In order to ensure adequate feedback when changing gears, engineers created a “powerplant frame” to rigidly connect the transmission and differential. It significantly enhanced the performance feel and became an essential technical element in the evolution of the MX-5.

For the suspension system, the development team chose a double wishbone setup for all four wheels, due to its superior dynamic characteristics. Despite the extra complexity this involved, the engineers never thought of compromising in their pursuit of the best possible sports car. The suspension is another reflection of the engineers’ dedication to “Jinba Ittai.”

Captivating design is an essential element of a successful sports car. The design of the MX-5 was initiated at Mazda North America (MANA), a development center located in California. In January 1986, it was decided that the R&D team in Japan would take over, and that summer the design base moved to Hiroshima with an almost-finished clay model.
Even at this stage, there were still doubts that the MX-5 would ever reach production. Some people still questioned the market potential of a lightweight sports car. To test this, a full-scale plastic body prototype was made from one of the design proposals and brought to the US in April 1987. Members of the public with an interest in cars were invited to preview the design. Of the 220 participants, 57 responded that they “would definitely buy it if it hit the market.” With the US being the world’s largest automobile market, this result had a strong influence on the decision makers at Mazda.
Having successfully survived this early crisis, development continued and the design was finalized five months later. Two years after that, in spring 1989, Mazda’s compact roadster went on sale in the US, with sales in Japan commencing in September. Japan had been without an exciting car that could connect directly with the driver’s emotions for a long time, and the MX-5, known in Japan as the Eunos Roadster, surprised many people with its instant success.
The Mazda MX-5 achieved more than a boost to Mazda’s sales figures; it triggered a number of other automakers to produce their own open-top sports cars. As a result, it brought about a 1990s revival of the lightweight sports car that had disappeared at the end of the 1970s. The MX-5 proved that lightweight sports cars can have a universal appeal. This achievement was made possible by the advancement of automotive technologies and the passion of Mazda’s engineers.
The World’s luckiest car
The Mazda MX-5 was born in the hearts of automotive engineers and brought to fruition through their aspirations. Beloved by drivers around the world since its debut, it was certified by Guinness World Records as the world’s highest production two-seat open top sports car in May 2000 (with 531,890 units produced between April 1989 and the end of October 1999). MX-5 sales continued to increase around the world, and Guinness updated the record when production passed 800,000 units in January 2007.

Even today, the “Jinba Ittai” spirit lives on in the third generation MX-5. The latest version of Mazda’s iconic roadster was born from the belief that “Only a very few sports cars possess the enduring spirit seen in the MX-5.”

It is this passion that makes Mazda’s MX-5 roadster the luckiest car on Earth.

Source: Mazda.com

Compiled By: Josh Martin
You May Also Like Seeing: “A Mazda MX-5 Balanced on a Saw Horse
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A Breif History of Roller Coasters – Video Blog

As summer quickly approaches we though we would get into the theme park spirit. Enjoy our modern coasters, because it was a bumpy ride to create todays theme parks.

popular-mecanics-roller-costersImage Source: Popular Mechanics

Beginnings

Thompson’s Switchback Railway, 1884.

The oldest roller coasters descended from the so-called “Russian Mountains,” which were specially constructed hills of ice located especially around Saint Petersburg, Russia. Built in the 17th century, the slides were built to a height of between 70 feet (21 m) and 80 feet (24 m), consisted of a 50 degree drop, and were reinforced by wooden supports. These slides became popular with the Russian upper class. Catherine II of Russia was such a fan of these attractions that she had a few of these slides built on her own property. “Russian mountains” remains the term for roller coasters in many languages, such as Spanish (la montaña rusa), Italian (montagne russe), French (les montagnes russes) and Portuguese (montanha-russa). Ironically, the Russian term for roller coaster, американские горки (amerikanskie gorki), translates literally as “American mountains.”

There is some dispute as to who was the first to put this operation on wheels. Some historians say the first real roller coaster was built under the orders of James the 3rd in the Gardens of Oreinbaum in St. Petersburg in the year 1784. (The lawn where Catherine’s roller coaster once stood, at the Sliding Hill Pavilion, now sits vacant.). Other historians believe that the first roller coaster was built by the French. The Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (The Russian Mountains of Belleville) constructed in Paris in 1812 and the Promenades Aeriennes both featured wheeled cars securely locked to the track, guide rails to keep them on course, and higher speeds.The first permanent loop track was probably also built in Paris from an English design in 1846, with a single-person wheeled sled running through a 13-foot (4 m) diameter vertical loop. These early single loop designs were called Centrifugal Railways.

Scenic Railways

In the 1850s, a mining company in Summit Hill, Pennsylvania constructed the Mauch Chunk gravity railroad, a brakeman-controlled, 8.7 mile (14 km) downhill track used to deliver coal to Mauch Chunk (now known as Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania. By 1872, the “Gravity Road” (as it became known) was providing rides to thrill-seekers for 50 cents a ride. Railway companies used similar tracks to provide amusement on days when ridership was low.

Using this idea as a basis, LaMarcus Adna Thompson began work on a gravity Switchback Railway that opened at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York in 1884. Passengers climbed to the top of a platform and rode a bench-like car down the 600 ft (180 m) track up to the top of another tower where the vehicle was switched to a return track and the passengers took the return trip. This track design was soon replaced with an oval complete circuit.[5] In 1885, Phillip Hinkle introduced the first complete-circuit coaster with a lift hill, the Gravity Pleasure Road, which was soon the most popular attraction at Coney Island.Not to be outdone, in 1886 LaMarcus Adna Thompson patented his design of roller coaster that included dark tunnels with painted scenery. “Scenic Railways” were to be found in amusement parks across the county.

Growing popularity and innovations

As it grew in popularity, experimentation in coaster dynamics took off. In the 1880s the concept of a vertical loop was again explored, and in 1895 the concept came into fruition with The Flip Flap, located at Sea Lion Park in Brooklyn, and shortly afterward with Loop-the-Loop at Olentangy Park near Columbus, Ohio. The rides were incredibly dangerous, and many passengers suffered whiplash. Both were soon dismantled, and looping coasters had to wait for over a half century before making a reappearance.

By 1912, the first underfriction roller coaster was developed by John Miller. Soon, roller coasters spread to amusement parks all around the world. Perhaps the best known historical roller coaster, The Cyclone, was opened at Coney Island in 1927. Like The Cyclone, all early roller coasters were made of wood. Many old wooden roller coasters are still operational, at parks such as Kennywood near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Pleasure Beach Blackpool, England. The oldest operating roller coaster is Leap-The-Dips at Lakemont Park in Pennsylvania, a side friction roller coaster built in 1902. The oldest wooden roller coaster in the United Kingdom is the Scenic Railway at Dreamland Amusement Park in Margate, Kent and features a system where the brakeman rides the car with wheels. It was severely damaged by fire on 7 April 2008. Scenic Railway at Melbourne’s Luna Park built in 1912, is the world’s oldest continually-operating roller coaster, and it also still features a system where the brakeman rides the car with wheels. One of only 13 remaining examples of John Miller’s work worldwide is the wooden roller coaster at Lagoon in Utah. The coaster opened in 1921 and is the 6th oldest coaster in the world.

The Great Depression marked the end of the first golden age of roller coasters, and theme parks in general went into decline. This lasted until 1972, when The Racer was built at Kings Island in Mason, Ohio (near Cincinnati). Designed by John Allen, the instant success of The Racer began a second golden age, which has continued to this day.

Steel roller coasters

Matterhorn Bobsleds, the world’s first tubular steel roller coaster.

In 1959, the Disneyland theme park introduced a new design breakthrough in roller coasters with the Matterhorn Bobsleds. This was the first roller coaster to use a tubular steel track. Unlike conventional wooden rails, tubular steel can be bent in any direction, which allows designers to incorporate loops, corkscrews, and many other maneuvers into their designs. Most modern roller coasters are made of steel, although wooden roller coasters are still being built.

In 1975 the first modern-day roller coaster to perform an inverting element opened: Corkscrew, located at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park, California. In 1976 the vertical loop made a permanent comeback with the Great American Revolution at Magic Mountain in Valencia, California.

New designs and technologies are pushing the limits of what can be experienced on the newest coasters. Flying coasters like Tatsu and electromagnetically-launched coasters like Maverick are examples of the latest generation of technologically advanced coasters.

Timeline of notable roller coasters

The roller coasters mentioned here are significant for their role in the amusement industry. They were notable for specific reasons, including:

  • First coaster of a specific kind, style, manufacturing material or unique technology; ground-breaking
  • First time a particular record-breaking threshold was crossed
  • Historical significance

1800 to 1899

1817
  • First coaster featuring cars that locked onto track: Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville (Russian Mountains of Belleville), Paris, France.
  • First coaster to feature two cars racing each other: Les Montagnes Russes à Belleville.
  • First complete-circuit coaster: Promenades Aériennes (The Aerial Walk), Paris.
1827
1846
  • First looping coaster (non-circuit): Centrifugal Railway, Frascati Garden, Paris.
1885

1900 to 1969

1902
1907
  • First use of lapbar: Drop-The-Dips, Coney Island.
1912
1913
1925
  • First coaster to reach 100 feet: Cyclone, Revere Beach, Revere, Massachusetts, United States.
1930
1959
1966

1970 to 1979

1972
1975
1976

1977
1979
  • The Beast: opened as the tallest, fastest and longest wooden coaster. Today it is still the longest wooden roller coaster in the world.

1980 to 1989

1980
1981
1982

  • First coaster to operate vehicles in reverse: Racer, Kings Island.
  • First coaster to run stand-up trains: Dangai, Thrill Valley, Gotemba, Shizuoka, Japan.
1985
1987
  • First coaster with six inversions: Vortex, Kings Island.
1988
1989

1990 to 1999

1992

Dragon Khan at PortAventura, the first roller coaster with eight inversions

1995
1996
1997
1998
1999

2000 to 2009

2000

Millennium Force at Cedar Point, the first roller coaster to exceed 300 feet (91 m) in height and the first to use an elevator cable lift.

2001
2002
2003
  • First complete-circuit coaster to exceed 400 feet (120 m) in height: Top Thrill Dragster, Cedar Point.
  • First coaster with a more than 90° vertical drop (97°): Vild-Svinet, BonBon-Land, Zealand, Denmark.
  • First coaster to utilize a vertical lift (not considered an elevator lift): Vild-Svinet, BonBon-Land.
2004
2008
2009

2010 to 2019

2010
 

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Top 20 April Fools Day Pranks – 2013 (and the top 100 pranks of all time) – Video Blog


Video Produced By: Jeremiah Warren

APRIL FOOLS: Tweets Will Shrink To 133 Characters

April 01, 2012 7:59 AM
temp9
Happy April Fools’ Day!

Rest easy, that headline was just a joke. You still have 140 characters to compose a tweet. Believe it or not: The productivity of the newsroom took a hit to come up with that fake headline. A whole host of people across NPR contributed a bunch of ideas. These were our 20 runners-up:

— NPR Blogger Wins Mega-Millions Jackpot

— Ford: All New Cars Will Have Air Bags For Cats and Dogs

— Citing Safety Risks, 30 States Outlaw ‘Driveway Moments’

— More Teens ‘Going Amish,’ Shunning Technology

— Facebook Adds ‘Meh’ Button

— Facebook App Lets Friends See Your Tax Returns

— Biden Out, Boehner In As Obama Shuffles Team

— House, Senate, White House Agree On Budget

— How Your Brain Is Like A Turkish Bath House

— Limbaugh, Olbermann Plan ‘Unity Tour’

— Scientists: Pink Slime Is Really Chartreuse

— Lady Gaga To Open Olympic Ceremonies With 20 Singing Kittens

— Penguin Brawls Reported From Shrinking North Pole

— Six Surefire Ways To Lose Weight Without Exercising Or Eating Right

— Internet Goes Down. Experts Advise: Reboot

— CPB Paid Clooney, Others For ‘I Love NPR’ Endorsements

— Men Of NPR: The Calendar

— Five Reasons Pink Slime Is Good For You

— NPR Listeners Demand: No More Stamberg Cranberries. Ever.

— R. Kelly Commissioned To Write New ATC Theme

At NPR, running a hoax story on April 1 is a long tradition. Back in 1992, Talk of the Nation ran a segment in which Richard Nixon — played by Rich Little — announced he was running for president using the campaign slogan, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.”

Snap Judgment, a public radio show distributed through NPR and PRX, is also celebrating the holiday with a special edition, “Original Prankster,” described as “amazing stories about people who take the joke waaaaaay too far …”

One of our favorite hoax stories came in 2009, when All Things Considered reported from Belleville, Illinois where “the nation’s first farm-raised whales are being grown and harvested.”

Last year, All Things Considered reported on the “slow net wave,” a movement of people who savored slow, dial-up Internet.

Update at 12:23 p.m. ET: Weekend Edition Sunday’s April Fool’s Story:

You can read the show’s story on Beethoven’s 10th Symphony here.

If you’re hungering for more April Foolery The Museum of Hoaxes has a “Top 100” list.

Update at 4:18 p.m. ET: Getting Your Kid Into The Right School Just Got Harder:

Weekends on All Things Considered is weighing in with their own entirely plausible tale.

Meanwhile, here are a few more media pranks we’ve found from across the sea:

Amnesty for hosepipe owners as drought bites
From The Independent On Sunday in Britain: “People living in areas where the ban comes into force on Thursday are to be given the opportunity to surrender garden hoses at local police stations.”

Arsenal launches new fragrance that smells of Emirates Stadium
From The Sun in Britain: “The £23 perfume includes a whiff of oils in the players’ massage area, the fresh-cut pitch and leather from boss Arsene Wenger’s dugout seat”

A fine BROmance… Simon Cowell and David Walliams fool around in the park
Photos from the Mirror in Britain: “The boys found a ­secluded spot to lay out their rug, uncork their wine and enjoy a natter”

And finally, one from the BBC, curiously unavailable on their site anymore, says the Gothamist:

The Earth has exploded, killing everyone

Source: NPR.org

Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time

#1: The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest
On 1 April 1957, the respected BBC news show Panorama announced that thanks to a very mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil, Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. It accompanied this announcement with footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in. Many called the BBC wanting to know how they could grow their own spaghetti tree. To this the BBC diplomatically replied, “place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.” More→

#2: Sidd Finch
The April 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated contained a story about a new rookie pitcher who planned to play for the Mets. His name was Sidd Finch, and he could reportedly throw a baseball at 168 mph with pinpoint accuracy. This was 65 mph faster than the previous record. Surprisingly, Sidd Finch had never even played the game before. Instead, he had mastered the “art of the pitch” in a Tibetan monastery under the guidance of the “great poet-saint Lama Milaraspa.” Mets fans celebrated their teams’ amazing luck at having found such a gifted player, and they flooded Sports Illustrated with requests for more information. In reality this legendary player only existed in the imagination of the author of the article, George Plimpton, who left a clue in the sub-heading of the article: “He’s a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd’s deciding about yoga —and his future in baseball.” The first letter of each of these words, taken together, spelled “H-a-p-p-y A-p-r-i-l F-o-o-l-s D-a-y — A-h F-i-b”. More→

#3: Instant Color TV
In 1962 there was only one tv channel in Sweden, and it broadcast in black and white. But on 1 April 1962, the station’s technical expert, Kjell Stensson, appeared on the news to announce that, thanks to a new technology, viewers could convert their existing sets to display color reception. All they had to do was pull a nylon stocking over their tv screen. Stensson proceeded to demonstrate the process. Thousands of people were taken in. Regular color broadcasts only commenced in Sweden on April 1, 1970. More→

#4: The Taco Liberty Bell
The Taco Bell Corporation took out a full-page ad that appeared in six major newspapers on 1 April 1996, announcing it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Hundreds of outraged citizens called the National Historic Park in Philadelphia where the bell was housed to express their anger. Their nerves were only calmed when Taco Bell revealed, a few hours later, that it was all a practical joke. The best line of the day came when White House press secretary Mike McCurry was asked about the sale. Thinking on his feet, he responded that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold. It would now be known, he said, as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial. More→

#5: San Serriffe
On 1 April 1977, the British newspaper The Guardian published a special seven-page supplement devoted to San Serriffe, a small republic said to consist of several semi-colon-shaped islands located in the Indian Ocean. A series of articles affectionately described the geography and culture of this obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. The Guardian’s phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. Only a few noticed that everything about the island was named after printer’s terminology. The success of this hoax is widely credited with launching the enthusiasm for April Foolery that gripped the British tabloids in subsequent decades. More→

#6: Nixon for President
The 1 April 1992 broadcast of National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation revealed that Richard Nixon, in a surprise move, was running for President again. His new campaign slogan was, “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I won’t do it again.” Accompanying this announcement were audio clips of Nixon delivering his candidacy speech. Listeners responded viscerally to the announcement, flooding the show with calls expressing shock and outrage. Only during the second half of the show did the host John Hockenberry reveal that the announcement was a practical joke. Nixon’s voice was impersonated by comedian Rich Little.

#7: Alabama Changes the Value of Pi
The April 1998 issue of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason newsletter contained an article claiming that the Alabama state legislature had voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the ‘Biblical value’ of 3.0. Soon the article made its way onto the internet, and then it rapidly spread around the world, forwarded by email. It only became apparent how far the article had spread when the Alabama legislature began receiving hundreds of calls from people protesting the legislation. The original article, which was intended as a parody of legislative attempts to circumscribe the teaching of evolution, was written by physicist Mark Boslough.

#8: The Left-Handed Whopper
Burger King published a full page advertisement in the April 1st edition of USA Today announcing the introduction of a new item to their menu: a “Left-Handed Whopper” specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. According to the advertisement, the new whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers. The following day Burger King issued a follow-up release revealing that although the Left-Handed Whopper was a hoax, thousands of customers had gone into restaurants to request the new sandwich. Simultaneously, according to the press release, “many others requested their own ‘right handed’ version.”

#9: Hotheaded Naked Ice Borers
The April 1995 issue of Discover Magazine reported that the highly respected wildlife biologist Dr. Aprile Pazzo had found a new species in Antarctica: the hotheaded naked ice borer. These fascinating creatures had bony plates on their heads that, fed by numerous blood vessels, could become burning hot, allowing the animals to bore through ice at high speeds. They used this ability to hunt penguins, melting the ice beneath the penguins and causing them to sink downwards into the resulting slush where the hotheads consumed them. After much research, Dr. Pazzo theorized that the hotheads might have been responsible for the mysterious disappearance of noted Antarctic explorer Philippe Poisson in 1837. “To the ice borers, he would have looked like a penguin,” the article quoted her as saying. Discover received more mail in response to this article than they had received for any other article in their history.

#10: Planetary Alignment Decreases Gravity
During an interview on BBC Radio 2, on the morning of 1 April 1976, the British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that at 9:47 AM a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event was going to occur that listeners could experience in their very own homes. The planet Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that would counteract and lessen the Earth’s own gravity. Moore told his listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment this planetary alignment occurred, they would experience a strange floating sensation. When 9:47 AM arrived, BBC2 began to receive hundreds of phone calls from listeners claiming to have felt the sensation. One woman even reported that she and her eleven friends had risen from their chairs and floated around the room. Moore’s announcement (which, of course, was a joke) was inspired by a pseudoscientific astronomical theory that had recently been promoted in a book called The Jupiter Effect, alleging that a rare alignment of the planets was going to cause massive earthquakes and the destruction of Los Angeles in 1982. More→

#11: UFO Lands in London
On March 31, 1989 thousands of motorists driving on the highway outside London looked up in the air to see a glowing flying saucer descending on their city. Many of them pulled to the side of the road to watch the bizarre craft float through the air. The saucer finally landed in a field on the outskirts of London where local residents immediately called the police to warn them of an alien invasion. Soon the police arrived on the scene, and one brave officer approached the craft with his truncheon extended before him. When a door in the craft popped open, and a small, silver-suited figure emerged, the policeman ran in the opposite direction. The saucer turned out to be a hot-air balloon that had been specially built to look like a UFO by Richard Branson, the 36-year-old chairman of Virgin Records. The stunt combined his passion for ballooning with his love of pranks. His plan was to land the craft in London’s Hyde Park on April 1. Unfortunately, the wind blew him off course, and he was forced to land a day early in the wrong location.

#12: Flying Penguins
On 1 April 2008, the BBC announced that camera crews filming near the Antarctic for its natural history series Miracles of Evolution had captured footage of Adélie penguins taking to the air. It even offered a video clip of these flying penguins, which became one of the most viewed videos on the internet. Presenter Terry Jones explained that, instead of huddling together to endure the Antarctic winter, these penguins took to the air and flew thousands of miles to the rainforests of South America where they “spend the winter basking in the tropical sun.” A follow-up video explained how the BBC created the special effects of the flying penguins.

#13: Kremvax
A message distributed to the members of Usenet (the online messaging community that was one of the first forms the internet took) on 1 April 1984 announced that the Soviet Union was joining the network. This generated enormous excitement, since most Usenet members had assumed cold war security concerns would prevent such a link-up. The message purported to come from Konstantin Chernenko (from the address chernenko@kremvax.UUCP) who explained that the Soviet Union wanted to join the network in order to “have a means of having an open discussion forum with the American and European people.” The message created a flood of responses. Two weeks later its true author, a European man named Piet Beertema, revealed it was a hoax. This is believed to be the first hoax on the internet. Six years later, when Moscow really did link up to the internet, it adopted the domain name ‘kremvax’ in honor of the hoax.

#14: The Body of Nessie Found
On 1 April 1972, newspaper headlines around the world announced that the dead body of the Loch Ness Monster had been found. A team of zoologists from Yorkshire’s Flamingo Park Zoo, who were at Loch Ness searching for proof of Nessie’s existence, had discovered the carcass floating in the water the day before. Initial reports claimed it weighed a ton and a half and was 15½ feet long. The zoologists placed the body in their van and began transporting it back to the zoo, but the local police chased them down and stopped them, citing a 1933 act of Parliament prohibiting the removal of “unidentified creatures” from Loch Ness. The police then took the body to Dunfermline for examination, where scientists soon threw cold water on the theory that the creature was the Loch Ness Monster. Instead, it was a bull elephant seal from the South Atlantic. The next day, the Flamingo Park’s education officer, John Shields, confessed he had been responsible for placing the body in the Loch. The seal had died the week before at Dudley Zoo. He had shaved off its whiskers, padded its cheeks with stones, and kept it frozen for a week, before dumping it in the Loch. Then he phoned in a tip to make sure his colleagues found it. He had meant to play an April Fool’s prank on his colleagues, but admitted the joke got out of hand when the police chased down their van. The seal’s body was displayed at the Flamingo Park Zoo for a few days before being properly disposed of. More→

#15: Metric Time
On 1 April 1975, Australia’s This Day Tonight news program revealed that the country would soon be converting to “metric time.” Under the new system there would be 100 seconds to the minute, 100 minutes to the hour, and 20-hour days. Furthermore, seconds would become millidays, minutes become centidays, and hours become decidays. The report included an interview with Deputy Premier Des Corcoran who praised the new time system. The Adelaide townhall was even shown sporting a new 10-hour metric clock face. The thumbnail (found at TelevisionAU.com) shows TDT Adelaide reporter Nigel Starck posing with a smaller metric clock. TDT received numerous calls from viewers who fell for the hoax. One frustrated viewer wanted to know how he could convert his newly purchased digital clock to metric time.

#16: The Eruption of Mount Edgecumbe
On the morning of 1 April 1974, the residents of Sitka, Alaska woke to a disturbing sight. Clouds of black smoke were rising from the crater of Mount Edgecumbe, the long-dormant volcano neighboring them. People spilled out of their homes onto the streets to gaze up at the volcano, terrified that it was active again and might soon erupt. Luckily it turned out that man, not nature, was responsible for the smoke. A local practical joker named Porky Bickar had flown hundreds of old tires into the volcano’s crater and then lit them on fire, all in a (successful) attempt to fool the city dwellers into believing that the volcano was stirring to life. According to local legend, when Mount St. Helens erupted six years later, a Sitka resident wrote to Bickar to tell him, “This time you’ve gone too far!” More→

#17: The Case of the Interfering Brassieres
The 1 April 1982 issue of the Daily Mail reported that a local manufacturer had sold 10,000 “rogue bras” that were causing a unique and unprecedented problem, not to the wearers but to the public at large. Apparently the support wire in these bras had been made out of a kind of copper originally designed for use in fire alarms. When this copper came into contact with nylon and body heat, it produced static electricity which, in turn, was interfering with local television and radio broadcasts. The chief engineer of British Telecom, upon reading the article, immediately ordered that all his female laboratory employees disclose what type of bra they were wearing.

#18: Man Flies By Own Lung Power
In April 1934, many American newspapers (including The New York Times) printed a photograph of a man flying through the air by means of a device powered only by the breath from his lungs. Accompanying articles excitedly described this miraculous new invention. The man, identified as German pilot Erich Kocher, blew into a box on his chest. This activated rotors that created a powerful suction effect, lifting him aloft. Skis on his feet served as landing gear, and a tail fin allowed him to steer. What the American papers didn’t realize was that the “lung-power motor” was a joke. The photo had first appeared in the April Fool’s Day edition of the Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung. It made its way to America thanks to Hearst’s International News Photo agency which not only fell for the hoax but also distributed it to all its U.S. subscribers. In the original article, the pilot’s name was spelled “Erich Koycher,” which was a pun on the German word “keuchen,” meaning to puff or wheeze. More→

#19: The Sydney Iceberg
A barge towing a giant iceberg appeared in Sydney Harbor on the morning of 1 April 1978. Sydneysiders were expecting it. Dick Smith, a local adventurer and millionaire businessman, had been loudly promoting his scheme to tow an iceberg from Antarctica for quite some time. Now he had apparently succeeded. He said that he was going to carve the berg into small ice cubes, which he would sell to the public for ten cents each. These well-traveled cubes, fresh from the pure waters of Antarctica, were promised to improve the flavor of any drink they cooled. Slowly the iceberg made its way into the harbor. Local radio stations provided blow-by-blow coverage of the scene. Only when the berg was well into the harbor was its secret revealed. It started to rain, and the firefighting foam and shaving cream that the berg was really made of washed away, uncovering the white plastic sheets beneath. More→

#20: The 26-Day Marathon
The 1 April 1981 issue of the Daily Mail contained a story about an unfortunate Japanese long-distance runner, Kimo Nakajimi, who had entered the London Marathon but, on account of a translation error, thought that he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles. Reportedly Nakajimi was now somewhere out on the roads of England, still running, determined to finish the race. Various people had spotted him, though they were unable to flag him down. The translation error was attributed to Timothy Bryant, an import director, who said, “I translated the rules and sent them off to him. But I have only been learning Japanese for two years, and I must have made a mistake. He seems to be taking this marathon to be something like the very long races they have over there.”

#21: Bombs Away!
1915: On April 1, 1915, in the midst of World War I, a French aviator flew over a German camp and dropped what appeared to be a huge bomb. The German soldiers immediately scattered in all directions, but no explosion followed. After some time, the soldiers crept back and gingerly approached the bomb. They discovered it was actually a large football with a note tied to it that read, “April Fool!”

#22: Whistling Carrots
2002: The British supermarket chain Tesco published an advertisement in The Sun announcing the successful development of a genetically modified ‘whistling carrot.’ The ad explained that the carrots had been specially engineered to grow with tapered airholes in their side. When fully cooked, these airholes caused the vegetable to whistle.

#23: The Skyforest Orange-Bearing Pine Trees
1950: Motorists driving along the scenic Rim of the World highway near Lake Arrowhead in Southern California discovered that the pine and cedar trees lining the road had all grown oranges overnight. The transformation was the work of the residents of the nearby town of Skyforest, led by the cartoonist Frank Adams. They had crept out during the night and strung 50,000 oranges in the trees along a one-mile section of the highway. The fruit was left over from the recent National Orange Show in San Bernardino.

#24: Drunk Driving on the Internet
1994: An article by John Dvorak in PC Computing magazine described a bill going through Congress that would make it illegal to use the internet while drunk, or to discuss sexual matters over a public network. The bill was supposedly numbered 040194 (i.e. 04/01/94), and the contact person was listed as Lirpa Sloof (April Fools backwards). The article said that the FBI was going to use the bill to tap the phone line of anyone who “uses or abuses alcohol” while accessing the internet. Passage of the bill was felt to be certain because “Who wants to come out and support drunkenness and computer sex?” The article offered this explanation for the origin of the bill: “The moniker ‘Information Highway’ itself seems to be responsible for SB 040194… I know how silly this sounds, but Congress apparently thinks being drunk on a highway is bad no matter what kind of highway it is.” The article generated so many outraged phone calls to Congress that Senator Edward Kennedy’s office had to release an official denial of the rumor that he was a sponsor of the bill.

#25: 15th Annual New York City April Fool’s Day Parade
2000: A news release sent to the media stated that the 15th annual New York City April Fool’s Day Parade was scheduled to begin at noon on 59th Street and would proceed down to Fifth Avenue. According to the release, floats in the parade would include a “Beat ’em, Bust ’em, Book ’em” float created by the New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle police departments. This float would portray “themes of brutality, corruption and incompetence.” A “Where’s Mars?” float, reportedly built at a cost of $10 billion, would portray missed Mars missions. Finally, the “Atlanta Braves Baseball Tribute to Racism” float would feature John Rocker who would be “spewing racial epithets at the crowd.” CNN and the Fox affiliate WNYW sent television news crews to cover the parade. They arrived at 59th Street at noon only to discover that there was no sign of a parade, at which point the reporters realized they had been hoaxed. The prank was the handiwork of Joey Skaggs, an experienced hoaxer. Skaggs had been issuing press releases advertising the nonexistent parade every April Fool’s Day since 1986.

#26: The Predictions of Isaac Bickerstaff
1708: In February 1708 a previously unknown London astrologer named Isaac Bickerstaff published an almanac in which he predicted the death by fever of the famous rival astrologer John Partridge. According to Bickerstaff, Partridge would die on March 29 of that year. Partridge indignantly denied the prediction, but on March 30 Bickerstaff released a pamphlet announcing that he had been correct: Partridge was dead. It took a day for the news to settle in, but soon everyone had heard of the astrologer’s demise. Thus, on April 1st Partridge was woken by a sexton outside his window who wanted to know if there were any orders for his funeral sermon. Then, as Partridge walked down the street, people stared at him as if they were looking at a ghost or stopped to tell him that he looked exactly like someone they knew who was dead. As hard as he tried, Partridge couldn’t convince people that he wasn’t dead. Bickerstaff, it turned out, was a pseudonym for the satirist Jonathan Swift. His prognosticatory practical joke upon Partridge worked so well that the astrologer finally was forced to stop publishing his almanacs, because he couldn’t shake his reputation as the man whose death had been foretold.

#27: Diseases of Brunus edwardii
1972: The Veterinary Record, the weekly journal of the British veterinary profession, contained an article about the diseases of Brunus edwardii, which was described as a species “commonly kept in homes in the United Kingdom and other countries in Europe and North America.” The article warned:
Pet ownership surveys have shown that 63.8 percent of households are inhabited by one or more of these animals, and there is a statistically significant relationship between their population and the number of children in a household. The public health implications of this fact are obvious, and it is imperative that more be known about their diseases, particularly zoonoses or other conditions which might be associated with their close contact with man.

For months afterwards the correspondence section of the Veterinary Record was dominated by letters about Brunus edwardii, most of which offered new observations about the species. The article proved so popular that it was eventually published in a special edition by Whittington Press, although it was reported that the British Library later had difficulty deciding how to classify it, as fact or fiction. Brunus edwardii is more commonly known as the “Teddy Bear”.

#28: Wisconsin State Capitol Collapses
1933: The Madison Capital-Times solemnly announced that the Wisconsin state capitol building lay in ruins following a series of mysterious explosions. The explosions were attributed to “large quantities of gas, generated through many weeks of verbose debate in the Senate and Assembly chambers.” Accompanying the article was a picture showing the capitol building collapsing. Many readers were fooled—and outraged. One reader wrote in declaring the hoax “was not only tactless and void of humor, but also a hideous jest.” Nevertheless, in 1985 The Science Digest named this as one of the best hoaxes ever.

#29: New Zealand Wasp Swarm
In 1949 Phil Shone, a New Zealand deejay for radio station 1ZB, announced to his listeners that a mile-wide wasp swarm was headed towards Auckland. He urged them to take a variety of steps to protect themselves and their homes from the winged menace. For instance, he suggested that they wear their socks over their trousers when they left for work, and that they leave honey-smeared traps outside their doors. Hundreds of people dutifully heeded his advice, until he finally admitted that it had all been a joke. The New Zealand Broadcasting Service was not amused by Shone’s prank. Its director, Professor James Shelley, denounced the hoax on the grounds that it undermined the rules of proper broadcasting. From then on, a memo was sent out each year before April Fool’s Day reminding New Zealand radio stations of their obligation to report the truth, and nothing but the truth.

#30: Abduction From the Grand Guignol
1950: On Wednesday March 29, 1950, between the second and third acts of No Orchids for Miss Blandish at Paris’s Grand Guignol theater, actress Nicole Riche suddenly disappeared. Stage hands said she had been handed a note, went pale as she read it, walked outside, and then vanished. Unable to continue the play, the theater gave everyone in the audience their money back. The police, who suspected kidnapping, launched a massive manhunt. Her disappearance made headlines around the world. Some papers noted it was an odd coincidence that she had apparently been kidnapped while starring in a play about a woman who is kidnapped. Two days later, early on the morning of April 1st, Riche walked into a police station dressed in the same flimsy white negligee and furcoat she had been wearing during the play, plus a sweater she said some friendly gypsies had given her. She claimed she had been imprisoned for the past two days by “Puritans” who lectured her endlessly about her immoral lifestyle before finally abandoning her in a forest. The police were skeptical about her story since there’s wasn’t a speck of dirt or dust on her. Eventually Riche broke down and admitted she hadn’t been abducted by Puritans. Her disappearance had been an April Fool’s Day publicity stunt engineered by the Grand Guignol’s manager, Alexandre Dundas.

#31: Migrant Mother Makeover
2005: Popular Photography ran an article titled “Can these photos be saved?” about how to remove unsightly wrinkles from photographic subjects. They chose, as an example of a photo that “needed to be saved,” Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother” photo taken in 1936 during the Great Depression. Lange’s photo is one of the most widely admired in the world. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to describe it as the Mona Lisa of photographs, and the Migrant Mother’s stoic expression is what makes the image great. Nevertheless, the editors of Popular Photography erased her wrinkles, softened her gaze, and removed her kids, transforming her from an iconic symbol of endurance into a smooth-faced, worry-free soccer mom. Their readers were horrified, not realizing the article was a spoof on the way magazines routinely touch-up celebrity images to remove blemishes and wrinkles. Hundreds wrote in expressing outrage at the defacement of such a classic image. To which the editors replied: Look at the date it was published!

#32: The Great Comic Strip Switcheroonie
1997: Comic strip fans opened their papers on April 1, 1997 and discovered their favorite strips looked different. Not only that, but in many cases characters from other strips popped up out of place. The reason for the chaos was the Great Comics Switcheroonie. Forty-six comic-strip artists conspired to pen each other’s strips for the day. For instance, Scott Adams of Dilbert took over Family Circus by Bil Keane, where he added a touch of corporate cynicism to the family-themed strip by having the mother tell her kid to “work cuter, not harder.” Jim Davis of Garfield took over Blondie, which allowed him to show his famous overweight cat eating one of Dagwood’s sandwiches. The stunt was masterminded by Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott, creators of the Baby Blues comic strip. When asked why he participated, Scott Adams noted, “You don’t get that many chances to tunnel under the fence.”

#33: The Derbyshire Fairy
2007: In late March 2007, images of an 8-inch mummified creature resembling a fairy were posted on the website of the Lebanon Circle Magik Co. Accompanying text explained how the creature had been found by a man walking his dog along an old roman road in rural Derbyshire. Word of this discovery soon spread around the internet. Bloggers excitedly speculated about whether the find was evidence of the actual existence of fairies. By April 1 the Lebanon Circle website had received tens of thousands of visitors and hundreds of emails. But at the end of April 1, Dan Baines, the owner of the site, confessed that the fairy was a hoax. He had used his skills as a magician’s prop-maker to create the creature. Baines later reported that, even after his confession, he continued to receive numerous emails from people who refused to accept the fairy wasn’t real.

#34: I Must Fly
1959: The residents of Wellingborough, England woke to find a trail of white footprints painted along the main street of their town. At the end of the trail were the words, “I must fly.”

#35: Big Ben Goes Digital
1980: The BBC reported that Big Ben, in order to keep up with the times, was going to be given a digital readout. The announcement received a huge response from listeners shocked and angered by the proposed change. The BBC Japanese service also announced that the clock hands would be sold to the first four listeners to contact them. One Japanese seaman in the mid-Atlantic immediately radioed in a bid.

#36: Discovery of the Bigon
1996: Discover Magazine reported that physicists had discovered a new fundamental particle of matter, dubbed the Bigon. It could only be coaxed into existence for mere millionths of a second, but amazingly, when it did materialize it was the size of a bowling ball. Physicist Albert Manque and his colleagues accidentally found the particle when a computer connected to one of their vacuum-tube experiments exploded. Video analysis of the explosion revealed the Bigon hovering over the computer for a fraction of a second. Manque theorized that the Bigon might be responsible for a host of other unexplained phenomena such as ball lightning, sinking souffles, and spontaneous human combustion. Discover received huge amounts of mail in response to the story.

#37: Dutch Elm Disease Infects Redheads
1973: BBC Radio broadcast an interview with an elderly academic, Dr. Clothier, who discoursed on the government’s efforts to stop the spread of Dutch Elm Disease. Dr. Clothier described some startling discoveries that had been made about the tree disease. For instance, he referred to the research of Dr. Emily Lang of the London School of Pathological and Environmental Medicine. Dr. Lang had apparently found that exposure to Dutch Elm Disease immunized people to the common cold. Unfortunately, there was a side effect. Exposure to the disease also caused red hair to turn yellow and eventually fall out. This was attributed to a similarity between the blood count of redheads and the soil conditions in which affected trees grew. Therefore, redheads were advised to stay away from forests for the foreseeable future. Dr. Clothier was in reality the comedian Spike Milligan.

#38: Operation Parallax
1979: London’s Capital Radio announced that Operation Parallax would soon go into effect. This was a government plan to resynchronize the British calendar with the rest of the world. It was explained that ever since 1945 Britain had gradually become 48 hours ahead of all other countries because of the constant switching back and forth from British Summer Time. To remedy this situation, the British government had decided to cancel April 5 and 12 that year. Capital Radio received numerous calls as a result of this announcement. One employer wanted to know if she had to pay her employees for the missing days. Another woman was curious about what would happen to her birthday, which fell on one of the cancelled days.

#39: Space Shuttle Lands in San Diego
1993: Dave Rickards, a deejay at KGB-FM in San Diego, announced that the space shuttle Discovery had been diverted from Edwards Air Force Base and would instead soon be landing at Montgomery Field, a small airport located in the middle of a residential area just outside of San Diego. Thousands of commuters immediately headed towards the landing site, causing enormous traffic jams that lasted for almost an hour. Police eventually had to be called in to clear the traffic. People arrived at the airport armed with cameras, camcorders, and even folding chairs. Reportedly the crowd swelled to over 1,000 people. Of course, the shuttle never landed. In fact, the Montgomery Field airport would have been far too small for the shuttle to even consider landing there. Moreover, there wasn’t even a shuttle in orbit at the time. The police were not amused by the prank. They announced that they would be billing the radio station for the cost of forcing officers to direct the traffic.

#40: The Spiggot Metric Boycott
1973: Westward Television, a British TV studio, produced a documentary feature about the village of Spiggot. As the documentary explained, the stubborn residents of this small town were refusing to accept the new decimal currency recently adopted by the British government, preferring instead to stick with the traditional denominations they had grown up with. As soon as the documentary was over, the studio received hundreds of calls expressing support for the brave stand taken by the villagers. In fact, many of the callers voiced their intention to join in the anti-decimal crusade. Unfortunately for this burgeoning rebellion, the village of Spiggot did not exist.

#41: Dogs to be painted white
1965: Politiken, a Copenhagen newspaper, reported that the Danish parliament had passed a new law requiring all dogs to be painted white. The purpose of this, it explained, was to increase road safety by allowing dogs to be seen more easily at night.

#42: Webnode
1999: A press release issued over Business Wire announced the creation of a new company called Webnode. This company, according to the release, had been granted a government contract to regulate ownership of ‘nodes’ on the ‘Next Generation Internet.’ Each of these nodes (there were said to be over 50 million of them) represented a route that data could travel. The company was licensed to sell each node for $100. Nodes would increase in value depending on how much traffic they routed, and owners would also receive usage fees based on the amount of data that flowed across their section of the internet. Therefore, bidding for the nodes was expected to become quite intense. Offers to buy shares in Webnode soon began pouring in, but they all had to be turned down since the company was just a prank. There really was a Next Generation Internet, but there were no nodes on it. Business Wire didn’t find the prank amusing and filed suit against its perpetrators for fraud, breach of contract, defamation, and conspiracy.

#43: An Interview with President Carter
2001: Michael Enright, host of the Sunday Edition of the Canadian Broadcasting Corpation’s radio program This Morning, interviewed former President Jimmy Carter on the air. The interview concerned Canada’s heavily subsidized softwood lumber industry, about which Carter had recently written an editorial piece in The New York Times. The interview took a turn for the worse when Enright began telling Carter to speed up his answers. Then Enright asked, “I think the question on everyone’s mind is, how did a washed-up peanut farmer from Hicksville such as yourself get involved in such a sophisticated bilateral trade argument?” Carter seemed stunned by the insult. Finally he replied, “Excuse me? A washed-up peanut farmer? You’re one to talk, sir. Didn’t you used to be on the air five times a week?” The tone of the interview did not improve from there. Carter ended up calling Enright a “rude person” before he hung up. Enright then revealed that the interview had been fake. The Toronto comedian Ray Landry had been impersonating Carter’s voice. The interview generated a number of angry calls from listeners who didn’t find the joke funny. But the next day the controversy reached even larger proportions when the Globe and Mail reported the interview as fact on their front pages. The editor of the Globe and Mail later explained that he hadn’t realized the interview was a hoax because it was “a fairly strange issue and a strange person to choose as a spoof.”

#44: Around the World for 210 Guineas
1972: In honor of the 100-year anniversary of Thomas Cook’s first round the world travel tour, the London Times ran a full article about Cook’s 1872 tour, in which it noted that the vacation had cost the participants only 210 guineas each, or approximately $575. Of course, inflation had made a similar vacation quite a bit more expensive by 1972. A few pages later, the Times included a small article noting that in honor of the 100-year anniversary, the travel agent Thomas Cook was offering 1000 lucky people the chance to buy a similar package deal at 1872 prices. The offer would be given to the first 1000 people to apply. The article noted that applications should be addressed to “Miss Avril Foley.” The public response to this bargain-basement offer was swift and enthusiastic. Huge lines of people formed outside the Thomas Cook offices, and the travel agent was swamped with calls. Belatedly the Times identified the offer as an April Fool’s joke and apologized for the inconvenience it had caused. The people who had waited in line for hours were, to put it mildly, not amused. The reporter who wrote the article, John Carter, was fired (though he was later reinstated).

#45: Bearskin Helmets Need Trimming
1980: Soldier magazine revealed that the fur on the bearskin helmets worn by the Irish guards while on duty at Buckingham Palace keeps growing and needs to be regularly trimmed:
The most hair-raising fact about the bearskins has been discovered by scientists recently. The skins retain an original hormone, which lives on after the animal has been skinned. Scientists call it otiose and it is hoped it can be put to use in medical research — especially into baldness.

The article quoted Maj. Ursa who noted, “Bears hibernate in the winter and the amazing thing is that in the spring the skins really start to sprout.” An accompanying photo showed Guardsmen sitting in an army barbershop having their helmets trimmed. The story was picked up by the London Daily Express and run as a straight story.

#46: Guinness Mean Time
1998: Guinness issued a press release announcing that it had reached an agreement with the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England to be the official beer sponsor of the Observatory’s millennium celebration. According to this agreement, Greenwich Mean Time would be renamed Guinness Mean Time until the end of 1999. In addition, where the Observatory traditionally counted seconds in “pips,” it would now count them in “pint drips.” The Financial Times, not realizing that the release was a joke, declared that Guinness was setting a “brash tone for the millennium.” When the Financial Times learned that it had fallen for a joke, it printed a curt retraction, stating that the news it had disclosed “was apparently intended as part of an April 1 spoof.”

#47: Internet Spring Cleaning
1997: An email message spread throughout the world announcing that the internet would be shut down for cleaning for twenty-four hours from March 31 until April 2. This cleaning was said to be necessary to clear out the “electronic flotsam and jetsam” that had accumulated in the network. Dead email and inactive ftp, www, and gopher sites would be purged. The cleaning would be done by “five very powerful Japanese-built multi-lingual Internet-crawling robots (Toshiba ML-2274) situated around the world.” During this period, users were warned to disconnect all devices from the internet. The message supposedly originated from the “Interconnected Network Maintenance Staff, Main Branch, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” This joke was an updated version of an old joke that used to be told about the phone system. For many years, gullible phone customers had been warned that the phone systems would be cleaned on April Fool’s Day. They were cautioned to place plastic bags over the ends of the phone to catch the dust that might be blown out of the phone lines during this period.

#48: Tasmanian Mock Walrus
1984: The Orlando Sentinel featured a story about a creature known as the Tasmanian Mock Walrus (or TMW for short) that many people in Florida were supposedly adopting as a pet. The creature was said to be four inches long, resembled a walrus, purred like a cat, and had the temperament of a hamster. What made it such an ideal pet was that it never had to be bathed, it used a litter box, and it ate cockroaches. In fact, a single TMW could entirely rid a house of its cockroach problem. Reportedly, some TMWs had been smuggled in from Tasmania, and there were efforts being made to breed them, but the local pest-control industry was pressuring the government not to allow them into the country, fearing they would put cockroach exterminators out of business. Dozens of people called the paper trying to find out where they could obtain their own TMW. A picture of a Tasmanian Mock Walrus accompanied the article. Skeptics noted that the creature looked surprisingly similar to a Naked Mole Rat.

#49: Don’t Disturb the Squirrels
1993: Westdeutsche Rundfunk, a German radio station, announced that officials in Cologne had just passed an unusual new city regulation. Joggers going through the park would be required to pace themselves to go no faster than six mph. Any faster, it was felt, would unnecessarily disturb the squirrels who were in the middle of their mating season.

#50: The Sheep Albedo Hypothesis
2007: RealClimate.org posted about the work of Dr. Ewe Noh-Watt of the New Zealand Institute of Veterinary Climatology, who had discovered that global warming was caused not by a buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but rather by the decline of New Zealand’s sheep population. The reasoning was that sheep are white, and therefore large numbers of sheep increase the planet’s albedo (the amount of sunlight reflected back into space). As the sheep population declined, the ground was absorbing more solar radiation, thus warming the planet: “It can be seen that the recent warming can be explained entirely by the decline in the New Zealand sheep population, without any need to bring in any mysterious so-called ‘radiative forcing’ from carbon dioxide, which doesn’t affect the sunlight (hardly) anyway — unlike Sheep Albedo.”

Noh-Watt also warmed of a potentially destabilizing feedback mechanism: “As climate gets warmer, there is less demand for wool sweaters and wooly underwear. Hence the sheep population tends to drop, leading to even more warming. In an extreme form, this can lead to a ‘runaway sheep-albedo feedback,’ which is believed to have led to the present torrid climate of Venus.”

#51: British Weather Machine
1981: The Guardian reported that scientists at Britain’s research labs in Pershore had “developed a machine to control the weather.” The article, titled “Britain Rules the Skies,” explained that “Britain will gain the immediate benefit of long summers, with rainfall only at night, and the Continent will have whatever Pershore decides to send it.” Readers were also assured that Pershore scientists would make sure that it snowed every Christmas in Britain. Accompanying the article was a picture of a scruffy-looking scientists surrounded by scientific equipment. The picture was captioned, “Dr. Chisholm-Downright expresses quiet satisfaction as a computer printout announced sunshine in Pershore and a forthcoming blizzard over Marseilles.”

#52: Smellovision
In 1965 BBC TV featured an interview with a professor who had just invented a device called “smellovision.” This miraculous technology allowed viewers to experience directly in their own home aromas produced in the television studio. The professor offered a demonstration by cutting some onions and brewing coffee. A number of viewers called in to confirm that they distinctly experienced these scents as if they were there in the studio with him. Since no aromas were being transmitted, whatever these viewers thought they smelled coming out of their tv sets must be chalked up to the power of suggestion.

#53: Thomas Edison Invents Food Machine
1878: After Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, Americans firmly believed that there were no limits to his genius. Therefore, when the New York Graphic announced in 1878 that Edison had invented a machine that could transform soil directly into cereal and water directly into wine, thereby ending the problem of world hunger, it found no shortage of willing believers.
Newspapers throughout America copied the article, heaping lavish praise on Edison. The conservative Buffalo Commercial Advertiser was particularly effusive in its praise, waxing eloquent about Edison’s brilliance in a long editorial. The Graphic took the liberty of reprinting the Advertiser’s editorial in full, placing above it a simple, two-word headline: “They Bite!”

#54: Washing the Lions at the Tower of London
1860: Numerous people throughout London received the following invitation: “Tower of London—Admit Bearer and Friend to view annual ceremony of Washing the White Lions on Sunday, April 1, 1860. Admittance only at White Gate. It is particularly requested that no gratuities be given to wardens or attendants.” By twelve o’clock on April 1 a large crowd had reportedly gathered outside the tower. But of course, lions hadn’t been kept in the tower for centuries, particularly not white liions. Therefore the crowd eventually snuck away disappointed. This prank had a very long pedigree. It had often been perpetrated (on a smaller scale) on unsuspecting out-of-towners, and an instance of it is recorded from as far back as 1698.

#55: FatSox
2000: The British Daily Mail announced that Esporta Health Clubs had launched a new line of socks designed to help people lose weight. Dubbed “FatSox,” these revolutionary socks could actually suck body fat out of sweating feet. The invention promised to “banish fat for ever.” The socks employed a patented nylon polymer called FloraAstraTetrazine that had been “previously only applied in the nutrition industry.” The American inventor of this polymer was Professor Frank Ellis Elgood. The socks supposedly worked in the following way: as a person’s body heat rose and their blood vessels dilated, the socks drew “excess lipid from the body through the sweat.” After having sweated out the fat, the wearer could then simply remove the socks and wash them, and the fat, away.

#56: IPO for F/rite Air
2000: By April 2000 the dot.com bubble was rapidly deflating. This didn’t deter hundreds of Dutch investors from lining up to buy shares in F/rite Air, which was being billed as a hot new technology company backed by supporters such as Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and George Soros. The announcement about the company’s IPO was posted on iex.nl, a financial web site for Dutch investors. It was reported that shares in the IPO could be reserved for $18 each by email, although it was said that analysts anticipated the stock soaring to above $80 on the first day of its filing. The company seemed like a sure thing, and almost immediately orders worth over $7 million flooded in. The orders didn’t stop coming in even after the newspapers had revealed the IPO to be an April Fool’s Day joke. F/rite air was a pun for ‘Fried air’ (i.e. Hot Air).

#57: Nat Tate
1998: A lavish party was held at Jeff Koons’s New York studio to honor the memory of the late, great American artist Nat Tate, that troubled abstract expressionist who destroyed 99 percent of his own work before leaping to his death from the Staten Island ferry. At the party superstar David Bowie read aloud selections from William Boyd’s soon-to-be released biography of Tate, “Nat Tate: An American Artist, 1928-1960.” Critics in the crowd murmured appreciative comments about Tate’s work as they sipped their drinks. The only catch was that Tate had never existed. He was the satirical creation of William Boyd. Bowie, Boyd, and Boyd’s publisher were the only ones in on the joke.

#58: Portable Zip Codes
2004: National Public Radio’s All Things Considered announced that the post office had begun a new ‘portable zip codes’ program. This program, inspired by an FCC ruling that allowed phone users to take their phone number with them when they moved, would allow people to also take their zip code with them when they moved, no matter where they moved to. It was hoped that with this new program zip codes would come to symbolize “a citizen’s place in the demographic, rather than geographic, landscape.” Assistant Postmaster General Lester Crandall was quoted as saying, “Every year millions of Americans are on the go: People who must relocate for work or other reasons. Those people may have been quite attached to their original homes or an adopted town or city of residence. For them this innovative measure will serve as an umbilical cord to the place they love best.”

#59: Daylight Savings Contest
1984: the Eldorado Daily Journal, based in Illinois, announced a contest to see who could save the most daylight for daylight savings time. The rules of the contest were simple: beginning with the first day of daylight savings time, contestants would be required to save daylight. Whoever succeeded in saving the most daylight would win. Only pure daylight would be allowed—no dawn or twilight light, though light from cloudy days would be allowed. Moonlight was strictly forbidden. Light could be stored in any container. The contest received a huge, nationwide response. The paper’s editor was interviewed by correspondents from CBS and NBC and was featured in papers throughout the country.

#60: PhDs Exempt From China’s One-Child Policy
1993: The China Youth Daily, an official state newspaper of China, announced on its front page that the government had decided to make Ph.D. holders exempt from the state-imposed one-child limit. The logic behind this decision was that it would eventually reduce the need to invite as many foreign experts into the country to help with the state’s modernization effort. Despite a disclaimer beneath the story identifying it as a joke, the report was repeated as fact by Hong Kong’s New Evening News and by Agence France-Presse, an international news agency. Apparently what made the hoax seem credible to many was that intellectuals in Singapore are encouraged to marry each other and have children, and China’s leaders are known to have great respect for the Singapore system. The Chinese government responded to the hoax by condemning April Fool’s Day as a dangerous Western tradition. The Guangming Daily, Beijing’s main newspaper for intellectuals, ran an editorial stating that April Fool’s jokes “are an extremely bad influence.” It went on to declare that, “Put plainly, April Fool’s Day is Liar’s Day.”

#61: La Fornication Comme Une Acte Culturelle
In 1972 listeners to England’s Radio 3 program In Parenthesis were treated to a roundtable discussion of a few cutting-edge new works of social anthropology and musicology. First up was a discussion of La Fornication Comme Une Acte Culturelle by Henri Mensonge (translated as Henry Lie). This book argued that “we live in an age of metaphorical rape” in which “confrontation, assault, intrusion, and exposure are becoming validated transactions, the rites of democracy, of mass society.” This sparked a blisteringly incomprehensible debate, which eventually segued into an exploration of the question “Is ‘Is’ Is?” Finally, the audience heard a rousing deconstruction of the ‘arch form’ of the sonata’s first motif. Listeners seemed to accept the program’s discussion as a legitimate exploration of new trends in the arts. Thankfully, it was a parody.

#62: Freewheelz
The April 2000 issue of Esquire magazine introduced its readers to an exciting new company called Freewheelz. This company had a novel business plan. It intended to provide drivers with free cars. In exchange, the lucky drivers had to agree both to the placement of large advertisements on the outside of their vehicle and to the streaming of advertisements on the radio inside their car. Strict criteria limited the number of people eligible to receive a free car. Not only did you have to guarantee that you would drive over 300 miles a week, you also had to complete a 600-question survey that probed into personal information such as your political affiliations and whether you were concerned about hair loss. Finally you had to submit your family’s tax returns, notarized video-store-rental receipts, and a stool sample. The entire article, written by Ted Fishman, was a satire of the much-touted “new economy” spawned by the internet. Attentive readers would have caught on to the joke if they had noticed that Freewheelz’s official rollout on the web was slated to occur on April 1. But readers who didn’t notice this tip-off flooded the offices of Esquire with calls, demanding to know how they could sign up to drive a free minivan. The satire also went over the head of the CEO’s of a number of real internet start-ups with business plans similar to that of the fictitious Freewheelz, companies such as Mobile Billboard Network, Freecar.com, and Autowraps.com. Larry Butler, the CEO of freecar.com, later confessed to Fishman that he was so scared at the prospect of this new competition that he cried when he first read the article.

#63: M3 Zebra Crossing
In 2000 early morning commuters travelling on the northern carriageway of the M3 near Farnborough, Hampshire encountered a pedestrian zebra crossing painted across the busy highway. The perpetrator of the prank was unknown. A police spokesman speculated that the prank, “must have been done very early in the morning when there was little or no traffic on the motorway.” Maintenance workers were quickly summoned to remove the crossing, which was apparently not too difficult to do since the pranksters had used emulsion paint rather than gloss. The police noted that, surprisingly, they had received no calls from the public about the crossing.

#64: Total Home Remote Electricity
In 1999 executives at 130 major companies received a professionally designed package of information about an exciting new product: Total Home Remote Electricity. Forget wireless computers. This technology, created by Ottmar Industries of Switzerland, allowed electricity itself to be beamed wirelessly anywhere within a house. Simply plug one of the small “projectors” into a wall outlet, and a safe electrical “aura” would envelop the home. Then attach a converter to any appliance, and the appliance would be able to receive power at any location within the aura, even outside on the roof. “Did you ever imagine making toast on your roof?” the promotional material asked. Accompanying the ads was a letter that included a phone number the executives could call for more information. Reportedly, about 30 people called the number, including three high-level executives. But the number really connected them to the advertising agency, Hoffman york, that had sent out the fake ad as an April Fool’s Day publicity stunts.

#65: Y2K Solved
In 1999 the Singapore Straits Times reported that a 17-year-old high school student had one-upped all the major software corporations of the world by creating a small computer program that would easily solve the Y2K bug. The camera-shy C student had supposedly devised the program in twenty-nine minutes while solving an algebra problem for his homework. His family and a technology consulting group were reportedly forming a joint venture named ‘Polo Flair’ in order to commercialize the discovery. They anticipated achieving revenues of $50 million by the end of the year. Numerous journalists and computer specialists contacted the Straits Times, seeking more information about the boy genius and his Y2K cure. One journalist even wanted to know if the boy would be willing to appear on TV, despite the fact that he was camera shy. Unfortunately the boy and his ingenious program didn’t exist. Quick-witted readers would have noticed that ‘Polo Flair’ was an anagram for ‘April Fool.’

#66: Smaugia Volans
The April 1, 1998 online edition of Nature Magazine revealed the discovery of “a near-complete skeleton of a theropod dinosaur in North Dakota.” The discovery was referred to in an article by Henry Gee discussing the palaeontological debate over the origin of birds. The dinosaur skeleton had reportedly been discovered by Randy Sepulchrave of the Museum of the University of Southern North Dakota. The exciting part of the discovery, according to the article, was that “The researchers believe that the dinosaur, now named as Smaugia volans, could have flown.” In actuality, the University of Southern North Dakota does not exist, though it has been made famous by Peter Schickele who refers to it as the location where the music of the obscure eighteenth-century composer PDQ Bach was first performed; Smaug was the name of the dragon in Tolkein’s The Hobbit; and Sepulchrave was the name of the 76th Earl of Groan in Mervyn Peake’s Titus Groan. This Earl, believing that he was an owl, leapt to his death from a high tower, discovering too late that he could not fly.

#67: Life Discovered on Jupiter
In 1996 AOL subscribers who logged onto the service were greeted by a news flash announcing that a “Government source reveals signs of life on Jupiter.” The claim was backed up by statements from a planetary biologist and an assertion by Ted Leonsis, AOL’s president, that his company was in possession of documents proving that the government was hiding the existence of life on the massive planet. The story quickly generated over 1,300 messages on AOL. A spokesman for the company later explained that the hoax had been intended as a tribute to Orson Welles’s 1938 Halloween broadcast of the War of the Worlds.

#68: Euro Disney Lenin
In 1995 the Irish Times reported that the Disney Corporation was negotiating with the Russian government to purchase the embalmed body of communist leader Vladimir Ilyich Lenin. The body has been kept on display in Red Square since the leader’s death. Disney proposed moving the body and the mausoleum to the new Euro Disney, where it would be given the “full Disney treatment.” This would include displaying the body “under stroboscopic lights which will tone up the pallid face while excerpts from President Reagan’s ‘evil empire’ speech will be played in quadrophonic sound.” Lenin t-shirts would also be sold. Disney anticipated that this attraction would attract more visitors to the theme park, significantly boosting profits which had been weak since the park’s opening. The Russians were said to be agreeable to the sale of Lenin’s body. But a controversy had erupted about the sale of the mausoleum. Liberal groups wanted to keep the mausoleum empty “to symbolize the ’emptiness of the Communist system,'” while Russian nationalists wanted to transform it into a memorial to Tsar Nicholas II.

#69: Corporate Tattoos
In 1994 National Public Radio’s All Things Considered program reported that companies such as Pepsi were sponsoring teenagers to tattoo their ears with corporate logos. In return for branding themselves with the corporate symbol, the teenagers would receive a lifetime 10% discount on that company’s products. Teenagers were said to be responding enthusiastically to this deal.

#70: One-way Highway
In 1991 the London Times announced that the Department of Transport had finalized a plan to ease congestion on the M25, the circular highway surrounding London. The capacity of the road would be doubled by making the traffic on both carriageways travel in the same direction. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the traffic would travel clockwise; while on Tuesdays and Thursdays it would travel anti-clockwise. The plan would not operate on weekends. It was said that the scheme was almost certain to meet with the cabinet’s approval, despite voices of protest coming from some quarters. One of the protestors included a spokesman for Labour Transport who reportedly warned that “Many drivers already have trouble telling their left from their right.” Also, a resident of Swanley, Kent was quoted as saying, “Villagers use the motorway to make shopping trips to Orpington. On some days this will be a journey of two miles, and on others a journey of 117 miles. The scheme is lunatic.” Thankfully, the scheme existed only in the minds of the writers at the Times.

#71: Michigan Shark Experiment
In 1981 the Herald-News in Roscommon, Michigan reported that 3 lakes in northern Michigan had been selected to host “an in-depth study into the breeding and habits of several species of fresh-water sharks.” Two thousand sharks were to be released into the lakes including blue sharks, hammerheads, and a few great whites. The experiment was designed to determine whether the sharks could survive in the cold climate of Michigan. The federal government was said to be spending $1.3 million to determine this. A representative from the National Biological Foundation was quoted as saying that there would probably be a noticeable decline in the populations of other fish in the lake because “the sharks will eat about 20 pounds of fish each per day, more as they get older.” County officials were said to have protested the experiment, afraid of the hazard it would pose to fishermen and swimmers, but their complaints had been ignored by the federal government. Furthermore, fishermen had been forbidden from catching the sharks. The Herald-News received a flurry of letters in response to the announcement.

#72: Miller Lites
In 2000 Miller Beer announced that it had struck an agreement with the town of Marfa, Texas to become the exclusive sponsor of the phenomenon known as the Marfa Mystery Lights. These are spherical lights which appear south of the town each evening, seeming to bounce around in the sky. They’re variously rumored to be caused by ghosts, swamp gas, or uranium (though they’re probably caused by the headlights from the nearby highway). Miller announced that under the terms of the agreement the Marfa Lights would be renamed the Miller Lites. The local paper, which was in on the joke, printed the news on its front page.

#73: The Origin of April Fool’s Day
In 1983 the Associated Press reported that the mystery of the origin of April Fool’s Day had finally been solved. Joseph Boskin, a History professor at Boston University, had discovered that the celebration had begun during the Roman empire when a court jester had boasted to Emperor Constantine that the fools and jesters of the court could rule the kingdom better than the Emperor could. In response, Constantine had decreed that the court fools would be given a chance to prove this boast, and he set aside one day of the year upon which a fool would rule the kingdom. The first year Constantine appointed a jester named Kugel as ruler, and Kugel immediately decreed that only the absurd would be allowed in the kingdom on that day. Therefore the tradition of April Fools was born. News media throughout the country reprinted the Associated Press story. But what the AP reporter who had interviewed Professor Boskin for the story hadn’t realized was that Boskin was lying. Not a word of the story was true, which Boskin admitted a few weeks later. Boston University issued a statement apologizing for the joke, and many papers published corrections.

#74: The Musendrophilus
In 1975 the famous naturalist David Attenborough reported on BBC Radio 3 about a group of islands in the Pacific known as the Sheba Islands. He played sound recordings of the island’s fauna, including a recording of an alleged night-singing tree mouse called the Musendrophilus. He also described a species whose webbed feet were prized by inhabitants of the island as reeds for musical instruments. Unfortunately, the night-singing tree mice were merely products of Attenborough’s imagination, perhaps inspired by that old yarn about the Tree Squeaks, that North American species which lives high in the trees and squeaks every time the wind blows.

#75: World to End Tomorrow
On March 31, 1940 the Franklin Institute issued a press release stating that the world would end the next day. The release was picked up by radio station KYW which broadcast the following message: “Your worst fears that the world will end are confirmed by astronomers of Franklin Institute, Philadelphia. Scientists predict that the world will end at 3 P.M. Eastern Standard Time tomorrow. This is no April Fool joke. Confirmation can be obtained from Wagner Schlesinger, director of the Fels Planetarium of this city.” The public reaction was immediate. Local authorities were flooded with frantic phone calls. The panic only subsided after the Franklin Institute assured people that it had made no such prediction. The prankster responsible for the press release turned out to be William Castellini, the Institute’s press agent. He had intended to use the fake release to publicize an April 1st lecture at the institute titled “How Will the World End?” Soon afterwards, the Institute dismissed Castellini.

#76: Great Cave Sell
On an undetermined April 1 in the 1840s, a story appeared in the Boston Post announcing that a cave full of treasure had been discovered beneath Boston Common. It had supposedly been uncovered by workmen as they removed a tree from the Common. As the tree fell, it revealed a stone trap-door with a large iron ring set in it. Beneath the door was a stone stairway that led to an underground cave. In this cave lay piles of jewels, old coins, and weapons with jeweled handles. As word of the discovery spread throughout Boston, parties of excited curiosity-seekers began marching out across the Common to view the treasure. A witness later described the scene: “It was rainy, that 1st of April, the Legislature was in session, and it was an animated scene that the Common presented, roofed with umbrellas, sheltering pilgrims on their way to the new-found sell. A procession of grave legislators marched solemnly down under their green gingham, while philosophers, archaeologists, numismatists, antiquarians of all qualities, and the public generally paid tribute to the Post’s ingenuity.” Of course, the Common was empty of all jewel-bearing caverns, as the crowd of treasure seekers eventually discovered to its disappointment.

#77: MITkey Mouse
On April 1, 1998 the homepage of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced some startling news: the prestigious university was to be sold to Walt Disney Co. for $6.9 billion. A photograph of the university’s famous dome outfitted with a pair of mouse ears accompanied the news. The press release explained that the university was to be dismantled and transported to Orlando where new schools would be added to the campus including the School of Imagineering, the Scrooge McDuck School of Management, and the Donald Duck Department of Linguistics. The fact that the announcement appeared on MIT’s homepage added official credibility to it. But in fact, the announcement was the work of students who had hacked into the school’s central server and replaced the school’s real web page with a phony one.

#78: The Venetian Horse Hoax
The citizens of Venice woke on the morning of April 1, 1919 to find piles of horse manure deposited throughout the Piazza San Marco, as if a procession of horses had gone through there during the night. This was extremely unusual, since the Piazza is surrounded by canals and not easily accessible to horses. The manure turned out to be the work of the infamous British prankster Horace de Vere Cole, who was honeymooning in Venice. He had transported a load of manure over from the mainland the night before with the help of a gondolier and had then deposited small piles of it throughout the Piazza. Perhaps he should have been paying more attention to his wife while on honeymoon because, evidently tired by his constant hijinks, she divorced him a few years later.

#79: PETA’s Tournament of Sleeping Fish
In 2000 the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) warned that it planned to sabotage the bass fishing tournament in East Texas’s Lake Palestine by releasing tranquilizers into the lake before the tournament. Their announcement stated that “this year, the fish will be napping, not nibbling.” State officials took the threat seriously and stationed rangers around the lake in order to stop any tranquilizer-toting PETA activists from drugging the fish, and numerous newspapers reported the threat. Eventually PETA admitted that it had been joking.

#80: Moscow’s Second Subway
In 1992, the Moskovskaya Pravda (Moscow Truth) published a special March 32nd edition in which it announced that the winds of capitalism transforming Russia would bring further changes for the residents of Moscow. Plans had been finalized to build a new Moscow subway system. Of course, there was nothing wrong with the city’s current subway. But in the spirit of capitalism, the second system would be built to promote “the interests of competition.” The paper had changed its name for that day to the Moskovskaya Nye-Pravda, or Moscow Un-Truth.

#81: Weeping Lenin
Over the years numerous statues of the Virgin Mary have been known to miraculously start weeping, but in 1995 an Italian statue of Lenin in the town of Cavriago joined the club. A huge crowd gathered to witness the milky white tears rolling down the statue’s metal cheeks. The crowd remained for hours until the tears were eventually revealed to be a prank.

#82: Maradona Joins Soviet Soccer Team
In 1988 the Soviet newspaper Izvestia reported that the world-renowned Argentine soccer star Diego Maradona was in negotiations to join Spartak Moscow. The Spartaks were to pay him $6 million to play on their struggling team. Izvestia later admitted that the story was an April Fool’s day joke, but only after the news was disseminated by the Associated Press, which then had to publish a red-faced retraction. The AP had believed the story because it was the first time in modern memory that a Soviet newspaper had published an April Fool’s day hoax. The sudden display of humor was attributed to Mikhail Gorbachev’s policy of glasnost, or openness.

#83: Diamond-Encrusted Grenades
During the 1990s stories of the ruthlessness of Russian gangsters became increasingly prevalent in the news, but apparently just because the gangsters were ruthless, that didn’t mean they weren’t fashion conscious. In 1996 Itar-Tass announced that a military factory had begun manufacturing diamond-encrusted grenades, which it was selling to Russian gangsters concerned about dispatching their enemies with style. “The use of such a grenade will leave your one-time rival in a sea of beautiful sparkling gems rather than in a pool of blood,” the article noted.

#84: Viagra for Hamsters
In 2000 The Independent reported that Florida researchers had developed a Viagra-like pill to treat sexually frustrated pets, including hamsters. Veterinarians were said to have greeted the news with derision, but the article pointed out that there are few things as sad as a pet suffering from feelings of sexual inadequacy, noting that “It’s not unknown for a guinea pig to sit in its cage thinking, ‘I haven’t had sex for months. Am I so unattractive?’.” Owners were instructed to simply grind the pills up and sprinkle them in the pet’s food. Laying some newspaper down on the floor once the pills began to take effect was also advised. The pills were to be marketed under the brand name Feralmone.

#85: Kokomo Police Cut Costs
In 1959 the Kokomo Tribune, based in Indiana, announced that the city police had devised a plan to cut costs and save money. According to this plan, the police station would close each night from 6 pm to 6 am An answering machine would record all calls made to the station during this time, and these calls would be screened by an officer in the morning. The police reportedly anticipated that the screening process would save the city a great deal of money, since many of the calls would be old by the morning and would not need to be answered. A spokesman for the police admitted that “there will be a problem on what to do in the case of a woman who calls in and says her husband has threatened to shoot her or some member of the family.” But in such a situation, the spokesman explained, “We will check the hospitals and the coroner, and if they don’t have any record of any trouble, then we will know that nothing happened.”

#86: Killer Bees Attack Arizona
In 1994 residents of Glendale and Peoria, Arizona woke to find yellow fliers posted around their neighborhoods warning them of “Operation Killer Bees.” Apparently there was to be widespread aerial spraying later that day to eradicate a killer bee population that had made its way into the area. Residents were warned to stay indoors from 9 am until 2:30 pm. The phone numbers of local television and radio stations were provided. On the bottom of the flier the name of an official government agency was listed: Arizona Pest Removal Information Line (For Outside Operations Listings). The first letters of this agency spelled out “April Fool.” Few people got the joke. Radio and television stations received numerous calls, as did the Arizona Agriculture Department. Many worried residents stayed inside all day, anxiously watching out their windows for the pest-control planes to fly overhead.

#87: Telepathic Email
The April 1999 edition of Red Herring Magazine included an article about a revolutionary new technology that allowed users to compose and send email telepathically. The company developing this technology was Tidal Wave Communications, led by Yuri Maldini, a computer genius from Estonia. Mr. Maldini claimed that he had developed the technology from the encrypted communications systems he had helped the army put in place during the Gulf War. At the end of the article the reporter recalled a moment when he asked Mr. Maldini how big the market for such a product might be: “Mr. Maldini falls silent. He stares vacantly for several moments out his office window and then says, ‘I just sent you an email with my answer.’ Upon returning to our office, we find the response waiting: ‘It’s going to be huge,’ reads the email. ‘Simply huge.'” Red Herring received numerous letters from readers admitting they had been fooled by the article.

#88: Bank Teller Fees
In 1999 the Savings Bank of Rockville placed an ad in the Connecticut Journal-Inquirer announcing that it would soon begin charging a $5 fee to customers who visited a live teller. The ad, which appeared on March 31, claimed that the fee was necessary in order to provide, “professional, caring and superior customer service.” Although the ad was a joke, many customers failed to recognize it as such. One woman reportedly closed her account because of it. The bank then ran a second ad revealing that the initial ad was a joke. The bank manager commented that the first ad ironically “commits us to not charging such fees.”

#89: Asterix Village Found
In 1993 London’s Independent announced the discovery by archaeologists of the 3000-year-old village of the cartoon hero Asterix. The village was said to have been found at Le Yaudet, near Lannion, France, in almost precisely the location where Rene Goscinny, Asterix’s creator, had placed it in his books. The expedition was led by Professor Barry Cunliffe, of Oxford University, and Dr. Patrick Galliou, of the University of Brest. Supposedly the team found evidence that the small village had never been occupied by Roman forces. They also discovered Celtic coins printed with the image of a wild boar (the favorite food of Asterix’s friend Obelix), as well as a large collection of rare Iron Age menhirs (standing stones) “of the precise size favoured by the indomitable Obelix whose job as a menhir delivery man has added a certain academic weight to the books.”

#90: Belgium Divides
The London Times reported in 1992 that formal negotiations were underway to divide Belgium in half. The Dutch-speaking north would join the Netherlands and the French-speaking south would join France. An editorial in the paper then lamented that, “The fun will go from that favorite parlor game: Name five famous Belgians.” The report apparently fooled the British foreign office minister Tristan Garel-Jones who almost went on a TV interview prepared to discuss this “important” story. The Belgian embassy also received numerous calls from journalists and expatriate Belgians seeking to confirm the news. A rival paper later criticized the prank, declaring that, “The Times’s effort could only be defined as funny if you find the very notion of Belgium hilarious.”

#91: Augusta National Goes Public
The May 1990 issue of Golf magazine had good news for golf enthusiasts. It reported that Augusta National, the elite private golf course where the Masters tournament is held, would begin allowing public access to its course at certain times. As a result of this report, both Augusta National and Golf magazine received hundreds of calls from eager golfers inquiring about playing privileges. But the report was an April fool’s joke, despite its placement in the May issue. Golf magazine was forced to publish a retraction, reaffirming that Augusta National was still a private club open only to members and guests.

#92: LA Highways Close for Repairs
In 1987 a Los Angeles disc jockey announced that on April 8 the LA highway system would be shut down for repairs for an entire month. This was alarming news in LA where it’s necessary to use the highway to get almost anywhere. The radio station immediately received hundreds of frantic calls in response to the announcement, and the California Highway Patrol reported that they were also flooded with calls throughout the day. The station later admitted that it was stunned by the intensity of the public reaction to the hoax. A representative from the California Department of Transportation called the station’s managers to share their opinion of the prank. Reportedly “they didn’t think it was very funny.”

#93: Eiffel Tower Moves
The Parisien stunned French citizens in 1986 when it reported that an agreement had been signed to dismantle the Eiffle Tower. The international symbol of French culture would then be reconstructed in the new Euro Disney theme park going up east of Paris. In the space where the Tower used to stand, a 35,000 seat stadium would be built for use during the 1992 Olympic Games.

#94: Tomb of Socrates Found
In 1995 the Greek Ministry of Culture announced that during excavation for the Athens metro system, archaeologists had uncovered what they believed to be the tomb of Socrates near the base of the Acropolis. A vase containing traces of hemlock (the poison used to kill socrates) and a piece of leather dating from between 400 and 390 BC were found in the tomb. The news agency Agence France-Presse immediately issued a release about the story. What it didn’t realize was that the Greek Ministry was joking, forcing the news agency to issue an embarrassed retraction a few hours later.

#95: Chunnel Blunder
In 1990 the News of the World reported that the Chunnel project, which was already suffering from huge cost overruns, would face another big additional expense caused by a colossal engineering blunder. Apparently the two halves of the tunnel, being built simultaneously from the coasts of France and England, would miss each other by 14 feet. The error was attributed to the fact that French engineers had insisted on using metric specifications in their blueprints. The mistake would reportedly cost $14 billion to fix.

#96: Boston Globe Price Cut
Readers of the Boston Morning Globe in 1915 could have purchased their papers for half the cost on April Fool’s Day, if they had been alert. The price listed on the front page had been lowered from “Two Cents Per Copy” to “One Cent.” But almost 60,000 copies of the paper were sold before anyone noticed the unannounced price change. When the management of the Globe found out about the change, they were just as surprised as everyone else. The new price turned out to be the responsibility of a mischievous production worker who had surreptitiously inserted the lower value at the last minute as the paper went to print.

#97: Providence Closes for the Day
Carolyn Fox, a disc jockey for WHJY in Providence, Rhode Island, announced in 1986 that the ‘Providence Labor Action Relations Board Committee’ had decided to close the city for the day. She gave out a number for listeners to call for more information. The number was that of a rival station, WPRO-AM. Reportedly hundreds of people called WPRO, as well as City Hall and the police. Even more called into their offices to see if they had to go into work. WHJY management later explained that it had never imagined its joke would have such a dramatic impact on the city.

#98: Soy Bomb Lands Record Contract
Viewers of the February 1998 broadcast of the Grammys were surprised when a semi-naked man with the word ‘Soy Bomb’ scrawled on his chest danced out onto the stage during Bob Dylan’s solo performance. The man (who was definitely not supposed to be there) was quickly escorted away by security guards. But a few months later, on April 1, Rhino Records proudly announced that it had signed Soy Bomb (as he was now known) to a two-year, six-album recording contract. Soy Bomb’s first album would include covers of popular classics such as ‘Dancing Machine’ and ‘You Dropped a Bomb on Me.’ A spokesman for Rhino Records commented that they had been moved to offer Soy Bomb a contract because the experience of watching him dance had been for them “kind of like
when you eat too many Whoppers and you feel a little nauseous,
but you’re so happy you ate them.”

#99: Virgin Cola’s Blue Cans
In 1996 Virgin Cola announced that in the interest of consumer safety it had integrated a new technology into its cans. When the cola passed its sell-by date, the liquid would react with the metal in the can, turning the can itself bright blue. Virgin warned that consumers should therefore avoid purchasing all blue cans. The joke was that Pepsi had recently unveiled its newly designed cans. They were bright blue.

#100: The British Postal Address Turnabout
In 1977 the BBC gave airtime to Tom Jackson, General Secretary of the British Union of Post Office Workers. Mr. Jackson was up in arms about a recent proposal that the British mail adopt the German method of addressing envelopes in which the house number is written after the name of the road, not before it (i.e. Downing Street 10, instead of 10 Downing Street). Jackson spoke at great length about the enormous burden this change would place upon postal employees, insisting that “Postal workers would be furious because it would turn upside-down the way we have learned to sort.” His comments elicited an immediate reaction from the audience, many of whom phoned up to voice their support for Jackson’s campaign. What the audience didn’t realize was that there were no plans to change the way the British addressed their mail. Mr. Jackson’s diatribe was an elaborate April Fool’s Day joke.

Source: Museum of Hoaxes

 

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The History of Easter, the Easter bunny, and Easter eggs- Video Blog


Video Produced By: History Channel

Easter Bunny

temp2The Easter Bunny or Easter Rabbit is a character depicted as a rabbit bringing Easter eggs. The Easter Bunny is sometimes depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature carries colored eggs in his basket, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Santa Claus, as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holiday. It was first mentioned in Georg Franck von Frankenau’s De ovis paschalibus (About Easter Eggs) in 1682 referring to an Alsace tradition of an Easter Hare bringing Easter Eggs.

Rabbits and hares

The hare was a popular motif in medieval church art. In ancient times it was widely believed (as by Pliny, Plutarch, Philostratus and Aelian) that the hare was a hermaphrodite. The idea that a hare could reproduce without loss of virginity led to an association with the Virgin Mary, with hares sometimes occurring in illuminated manuscripts and Northern European paintings of the Virgin and Christ Child. It may also have been associated with the Holy Trinity, as in the three hares motif,representing the “One in Three and Three in One” of which the triangle or three interlocking shapes such as rings are common symbols. In England, this motif usually appears in a prominent place in the church, such as the central rib of the chancel roof, or on a central rib of the nave. This suggests that the symbol held significance to the church, and casts doubt on the theory that they may have been masons’ or carpenters’ signature marks.

Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the March Equinox.
Rabbits and hares are both prolific breeders. Female hares can conceive a second litter of offspring while still pregnant with the first. This phenomenon is known as superfetation. Lagomorphs mature sexually at an early age and can give birth to several litters a year (hence the saying, “to breed like bunnies”). It is therefore not surprising that rabbits and hares should become fertility symbols, or that their springtime mating antics should enter into Easter folklore.

Eggs

The precise origin of the ancient custom of decorating eggs is not known, although evidently the blooming of many flowers in spring coincides with the use of the fertility symbol of eggs—and eggs boiled with some flowers change their color, bringing the spring into the homes. Many Christians of the Eastern Orthodox Church to this day typically dye their Easter eggs red, the color of blood, in recognition of the blood of the sacrificed Christ (and, of the renewal of life in springtime). Some also use the color green, in honor of the new foliage emerging after the long dead time of winter.

German Protestants wanted to retain the Catholic custom of eating colored eggs for Easter, but did not want to introduce their children to the Catholic rite of fasting. Eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was the reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time.

The idea of an egg-laying bunny came to the U.S. in the 18th century. German immigrants in the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about the “Osterhase” (sometimes spelled “Oschter Haws“).Hase” means “hare”, not rabbit, and in Northwest European folklore the “Easter Bunny” indeed is a hare, not a rabbit. According to the legend, only good children received gifts of colored eggs in the nests that they made in their caps and bonnets before Easter.In 1835, Jakob Grimm wrote of long-standing similar myths in Germany itself. Grimm suggested that these derived from legends of the reconstructed continental Germanic goddess *Ostara

Theological significance

temp2The New Testament teaches that the resurrection of Jesus, which Easter celebrates, is a foundation of the Christian faith. The resurrection established Jesus as the powerful Son of God and is cited as proof that God will judge the world in righteousness. God has given Christians “a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”. Christians, through faith in the working of God are spiritually resurrected with Jesus so that they may walk in a new way of life.

Easter is linked to the Passover and Exodus from Egypt recorded in the Old Testament through the Last Supper and crucifixion that preceded the resurrection.According to the New Testament, Jesus gave the Passover meal a new meaning, as he prepared himself and his disciples for his death in the upper room during the Last Supper.He identified the matzah and cup of wine as his body soon to be sacrificed and his blood soon to be shed. Paul states, “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed”;this refers to the Passover requirement to have no yeast in the house and to the allegory of Jesus as the Paschal lamb.

One interpretation of the Gospel of John is that Jesus, as the Passover lamb, was crucified at roughly the same time as the Passover lambs were being slain in the temple, on the afternoon of Nisan 14. The scriptural instructions specify that the lamb is to be slain “between the two evenings”, that is, at twilight. By the Roman period, however, the sacrifices were performed in the mid-afternoon. Josephus, Jewish War 6.10.1/423 (“They sacrifice from the ninth to the eleventh hour”). Philo, Special Laws 2.27/145 (“Many myriads of victims from noon till eventide are offered by the whole people”). This interpretation, however, is inconsistent with the chronology in the Synoptic Gospels. It assumes that text literally translated “the preparation of the passover” in John 19:14 refers to Nisan 14 (Preparation Day for the Passover) and not necessarily to Yom Shishi (Friday, Preparation Day for Sabbath) and that the priests’ desire to be ritually pure in order to “eat the passover” refers to eating the Passover lamb, not to the public offerings made during the days of Unleavened Bread.

In the Early Church

temp2The first Christians, Jewish and Gentile, were certainly aware of the Hebrew calendar, but there is no direct evidence that they celebrated any specifically Christian annual festivals.Christians of Jewish origin were the first to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Since the date of the resurrection was close the timing of Passover, they likely celebrated the resurrection as a new facet of the Passover festival.

Direct evidence for the Easter festival begins to appear in the mid-second century. Perhaps the earliest extant primary source referencing Easter is a mid-second-century Paschal homily attributed to Melito of Sardis, which characterizes the celebration as a well-established one. Evidence for another kind of annual Christian festival, the commemoration of martyrs, begins to appear at about the same time as evidence for the celebration of Easter. But while martyrs’ days (usually the individual dates of martyrdom) were celebrated on fixed dates in the local solar calendar, the date of Easter was fixed by means of the local Jewish lunisolar calendar. This is consistent with the celebration of Easter having entered Christianity during its earliest, Jewish period, but does not leave the question free of doubt.

The ecclesiastical historian Socrates Scholasticus attributes the observance of Easter by the church to the perpetuation of its custom, “just as many other customs have been established,” stating that neither Jesus nor his Apostles enjoined the keeping of this or any other festival. Although he describes the details of the Easter celebration as deriving from local custom, he insists the feast itself is universally observed.
Source: Wikipedia

The White House Easter Egg Roll

temp2Since 1878, American presidents and their families have celebrated Easter Monday by hosting an ‘egg roll’ party. Held on the South Lawn, it is one of the oldest annual events in White House history. Some historians note that First Lady Dolley Madison originally suggested the idea of a public egg roll, while others tell stories of informal egg-rolling parties at the White House dating back to President Lincoln’s administration. Beginning in the 1870s, Washingtonians from all social levels celebrated Easter Monday on the west grounds of the U.S. Capitol. Children rolled brilliantly dyed hard-boiled eggs down the terraced lawn.

Soon a concern for the landscape led to a bill that banned the rolling of eggs on Capitol grounds. In 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the bill into law. The new edict went unchallenged in 1877, as rain cancelled all the day’s activities, but egg rollers who came in 1878 were ejected by Capitol Hill police.
Source: White House.org

Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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History of St. Patricks Day Parade – Video Blog

In New York City, the first parade honoring the Catholic feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is held by Irish soldiers serving in the British army.

temp2Saint Patrick, who was born in the late 4th century, was one of the most successful Christian missionaries in history. Born in Britain to a Christian family of Roman citizenship, he was taken prisoner at the age of 16 by a group of Irish raiders who attacked his family’s estate. They transported him to Ireland, and he spent six years in captivity before escaping back to Britain. Believing he had been called by God to Christianize Ireland, he joined the Catholic Church and studied for 15 years before being consecrated as the church’s second missionary to Ireland. Patrick began his mission to Ireland in 432, and by his death in 461, the island was almost entirely Christian.

Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of celebrating St. Patrick’s feast day to America. The first recorded St. Patrick’s Day parade was held not in Ireland but in New York City in 1762, and with the dramatic increase of Irish immigrants to the United States in the mid-19th century, the March 17th celebration became widespread. Today, across the United States, millions of Americans of Irish ancestry celebrate their cultural identity and history by enjoying St. Patrick’s Day parades and engaging in general revelry.

Source: History Chanel

Ttemp2he history of the St. Patrick’s Day parade began with modest gatherings in the streets of colonial America. And throughout the 19th century, large public celebrations to mark St. Patrick’s Day became potent political symbols.

And while the legend of St. Patrick has ancient roots in Ireland, the modern notion of St. Patrick’s Day came into being in American cities in the 1800s.

History of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Stretches Back to Colonial America

According to legend, the earliest celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in America took place in Boston in 1737, when colonists of Irish descent marked the event with a modest parade.

The Boston event is often cited as the earliest celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in America, but historians as far back as a century ago would point out that a prominent Irish-born Roman Catholic, Thomas Dongan, had been governor of the Province of New York from 1683 to 1688.

Given Dongan’s ties to his native Ireland, it has long been speculated that some observance of St. Patrick’s Day must have been held in colonial New York during that period, although no written record of such events seems to have survived.

Events from the 1700s are recorded more reliably, thanks to the introduction of newspapers in colonial America, and in the 1760s we can find substantial evidence of St. Patrick’s Day events in New York City. Organizations of Irish-born colonists would place notices in the city’s newspapers announcing St. Patrick’s Day gatherings to be held at various taverns.

The British Army in New York Marked St. Patrick’s Day

In late March 1766, the New York Mercury reported that St. Patrick’s Day had been marked with the playing of “fifes and drums, which produced a very agreeable harmony.”

Prior to the American Revolution, New York was generally garrisoned by British regiments, and it has been noted that usually one or two regiments had strong Irish contingents. Two British infantry regiments in particular, the 16th and 47th Regiments of Foot, were primarily Irish. And officers of those regiments formed an organization, the Society of the Friendly Brothers of St. Patrick, that held celebrations to mark March 17th.

The observances generally consisted of both military men and civilians gathering to drink toasts, and participants would drink to the King, as well as to “the prosperity of Ireland.” Such celebrations were held at establishments including Hull’s Tavern and a tavern known as Bolton and Sigel’s.

Post-Revolutionary St. Patrick’s Day Celebrations

During the Revolutionary War the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day seem to have been muted. But with peace restored in a new nation, the celebrations resumed, but with a very different focus.

Gone, of course, were the toasts to the health of the King. Beginning on March 17, 1784, the first St. Patrick’s Day since the British evacuated New York, the celebrations were held under the auspices of a new organization without Tory connections, the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. The day was marked with music, no doubt again by fifes and drums, and a banquet was held at Cape’s Tavern in lower Manhattan.

Huge Crowds Flocked to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Parades on St. Patrick’s Day continued throughout the early 1800s, and the early parades would often consist of processions marching from parish churches in the city to the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Mott Street.

As the Irish population of New York swelled in the years of the Great Famine, the number of Irish organizations also increased. Reading old accounts of St. Patrick’s Day observances from the 1840s and early 1850s, it’s staggering to see how many organizations, all with their own civic and political orientation, were marking the day.

The competition sometimes got heated, and in at least one year, 1858, there were actually two large, and competing, St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York. In the early 1860s, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish immigrant group originally formed in the 1830s to combat nativism, began organizing one massive parade, which it still does to this day.

The parades were not always without incident. In late March 1867 the New York newspapers were full of stories about violence that broke out at the parade in Manhattan, and also at a St. Patrick’s Day march in Brooklyn. Following that fiasco, the focus in following years was on making the parades and celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day a respectable reflection on the growing political influence of the Irish in New York.

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade Became a Mighty Political Symbol

A lithograph of a St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York in the early 1870s shows a mass of people assembled in Union Square. What’s noteworthy is that the procession includes men costumed as gallowglasses, ancient soldiers of Ireland. They are marching before a wagon holding a bust of Daniel O’Connell, the great 19th century Irish political leader.

The lithograph was published by Thomas Kelly (a competitor of Currier and Ives), and was probably a popular item for sale. It indicates how the St. Patrick’s Day parade was becoming an annual symbol of Irish-American solidarity, complete with veneration of ancient Ireland as well as 19th century Irish nationalism.

The Modern St. Patrick’s Day Parade Emerged

In 1891 the Ancient Order of Hibernians adopted the familiar parade route, the march up Fifth Avenue, which it still follows today. And other practices, such as the banning of wagons and floats, also became standard. The parade as it exists today is essentially the same as it would have been in the 1890s, with many thousands of people marching, accompanied by bagpipe bands as well as brass bands.

St. Patrick’s Day is also marked in other American cities, with large parades being staged in Boston, Chicago, Savannah, and elsewhere. And the concept of the St. Patrick’s Day parade has been exported back to Ireland: Dublin began its own St. Patrick’s Day festival in the mid-1990s, and its flashy parade, which is noted for large and colorful puppet-like characters, draws hundreds of thousands of spectators every March 17th.

Source: About.com
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

History of St. Patrick’s Day – Video Blog

St. Patrick’s Day in the United States:

temp2
St. Patrick’s Day, although not a legal holiday anywhere in the United States, is nonetheless widely recognised and celebrated throughout the country. It is primarily observed as a celebration of Irish and Irish American culture; celebrations include prominent displays of the colour green, feasting, copious consumption of alcohol, religious observances, and numerous parades. The holiday has been celebrated on the North American continent since the late eighteenth century.

Saint Patrick Himself:

20130311-090303.jpg Little is known of Patrick’s early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the fourth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon and his grandfather was a priest in the Christian church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.

In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianise the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish church.

Wearing of the green:

denver-st-patricksOriginally, the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick’s Day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick’s Day as early as the 17th century. Saint Patrick is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day. In the 1798 rebellion, to make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase “the wearing of the green”, meaning to wear a shamrock on one’s clothing, derives from a song of the same name.

The first festival:

temp3The first Saint Patrick’s Festival was held on 17 March 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 it was a four-day event. By 2006, the festival was five days long; more than 675,000 people attended the 2009 parade. Overall 2009’s five-day festival saw close to 1 million visitors, who took part in festivities that included concerts, outdoor theatre performances, and fireworks. Skyfest forms the centrepiece of the festival.

The topic of the 2004 St. Patrick’s Symposium was “Talking Irish”, during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success, and the future were discussed. Since 1996, there has been a greater emphasis on celebrating and projecting a fluid and inclusive notion of “Irishness” rather than an identity based around traditional religious or ethnic allegiance. The week around Saint Patrick’s Day usually involves Irish language speakers using more Irish during Seachtain na Gaeilge (“Irish Language Week”).

As well as Dublin, many other cities, towns, and villages in Ireland hold their own parades and festivals, including Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford.
The biggest celebrations outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is rumoured to be buried. In 2004, according to Down District Council, the week-long St. Patrick’s Festival had more than 2,000 participants and 82 floats, bands, and performers and was watched by more than 30,000 people.

Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularisation of St Patrick’s Day. In The Word magazine’s March 2007 issue, Fr. Vincent Twomey wrote, “It is time to reclaim St Patrick’s Day as a church festival.” He questioned the need for “mindless alcohol-fuelled revelry” and concluded that “it is time to bring the piety and the fun together.”
United States

Source: Wikipedia
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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History of in Car Computers – Video Blog

A Breif History of in Car Computers:

Microsoft U.V.O.

kia uvo systemKia UVO is an in-car infotainment system with advanced voice- and touch-activated features. Kia UVO, short for ‘Your Voice,’ provides simple and quick access to vehicle’s multimedia and infotainment systems. Developed by Microsoft and Kia, it is much like Ford Sync and is available on new models of the Kia Sorento and Kia Optima. It is only available with a 4.3″ inch touch screen with reversing camera unlike Ford’s Sync which is available without a touch screen.

Carputer SystemCarputer

A carputer is a category of mobile computer designed or modified specifically to be installed and run in automobiles. Originally these were based on industrial personal computer technology, but as smartphones and PDAs have become more powerful, and have included useful technologies like GPS and Bluetooth, they have become the predominant base platform for developing carputers.

Many do-it-your-selfers have built carputers from laptops and small form factor computers like netbooks.

The recent popularity of carputers has caused the creation of more advanced units that use touch screen interfaces, integrate with vehicles via OBD-II link, and offer a variety of other add-ons like rear-view cameras and GPS. It is now possible to find assembled carputers complete with wireless capabilities and built-in microphones for sale on the internet.

Police cars often have carputers, known as Mobile data terminals.

AutoPC SystemAutoPC

The AutoPC is a brand of carputer jointly developed by Clarion and Microsoft.

The first (and only) product was sold by Clarion as an aftermarket product. This product utilized a 60 MHz Hitachi‘s SH3 processor running Windows CE. The device had a 256×64 8 color LCD screen capable of displaying information from the navigation program as well as voice recognition and speech capabilities. It also included contacts and calendar applications. The standard version of the AutoPC (sometimes called Auto PC) also included a simple “directions” application which used an add-on GPS module to get the user to their destination. Clarion followed this up with a more sophisticated navigation application with a map display and turn-by-turn directions. It had a MSRP of $1799.

Clarion created a follow-up using a next generation version of the Windows CE for Automotive operating system called the Joyride. This included MP3 playback via CD-R and compact flash cards. It also included an improved navigation system, including GPS receiver and gyroscope for inertial navigation.

The AutoPC was created by Microsoft‘s Automotive Business Unit. This group has gone on to develop several products for car manufacturers, including Ford‘s Sync, released in 2007.

Source: Wikipedia

Kia Motors and Microsoft Usher in New Era of In-Car Technology:


Jan. 05, 2010
With UVO, drivers and passengers can quickly and directly access music files, change radio stations, make or answer phone calls, send and receive SMS text messages, and operate a rear-view camera when the driver shifts into reverse, all through voice-activated controls using Microsoft speech recognition technology. The hands-free system helps drivers stay focused on the road.

Features of UVO include advanced speech recognition; a 4.3-inch full-color display screen; and MyMusic, a jukebox-type function that enables drivers to shuffle between music sources including personal music folders, an MP3 player, or AM/FM and satellite radio.

Co-designed by Kia Motors and Microsoft, UVO is built on the award-winning Microsoft Windows Embedded Auto software platform. The system will be offered during the third quarter of 2010, starting with the 2011 Kia Sorento CUV.

Microsoft and Kia will demonstrate UVO at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week

Source: Microsoft

Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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History of Valentine’s Day – Video Blog


Video Produced By: History Channel

History of Valentine’s Day

Saint Valentine’s Day, commonly known as Valentine’s Day, or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is observed on February 14 each year. Today Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world, mostly in the West, although it remains a working day in many of them.

valentines day - HistorySt. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her. Today, Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine’s Day, albeit on July 6th and July 30th, the former date in honor of the Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and the latter date in honor of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna.

The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

Historical facts

Shrine of St. Valentine in Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland

Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine. The Valentines honored on February 14 are Valentine of Rome (Valentinus presb. m. Romae) and Valentine of Terni (Valentinus ep. Interamnensis m. Romae).[13] Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred about AD 269 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. The flower crowned skull of St Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Other relics are found in the Basilica of Santa Prassede, also in Rome, as well as at Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in Dublin, Ireland.

Valentine of Terni became bishop of Interamna (modern Terni) about AD 197 and is said to have been martyred during the persecution under Emperor Aurelian. He is also buried on the Via Flaminia, but in a different location than Valentine of Rome. His relics are at the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Terni (Basilica di San Valentino).

The Catholic Encyclopedia also speaks of a third saint named Valentine who was mentioned in early martyrologies under date of February 14. He was martyred in Africa with a number of companions, but nothing more is known about him. Saint Valentine’s head was preserved in the abbey of New Minster, Winchester and venerated.

February 14 is celebrated as St Valentine’s Day in various Christian denominations; it has, for example, the rank of ‘commemoration’ in the calendar of saints in the Anglican Communion. In addition, the feast day of Saint Valentine is also given in the calendar of saints of the Lutheran Church. However, in the 1969 revision of the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints, the feast day of Saint Valentine on February 14 was removed from the General Roman Calendar and relegated to particular (local or even national) calendars for the following reason: “Though the memorial of Saint Valentine is ancient, it is left to particular calendars, since, apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14.” The feast day is still celebrated in Balzan (Malta) where relics of the saint are claimed to be found, and also throughout the world by Traditionalist Catholics who follow the older, pre-Second Vatican Council calendar. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Valentine’s Day is celebrated on July 6th, in which Saint Valentine, the Roman presbyter, is honoured; furthermore, the Eastern Orthodox Church obsesrves the feast of Hieromartyr Valentine, Bishop of Interamna, on July 30th.
Source: wikipedia
Compiled By: Josh Martin

 

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