Saturday, January 21, 2023



The oldest bridge in Paris is the Point Neuf.

It stands by the western (downstream) point of the Île de la Cité, the island in the middle of the river that was, between 250 and 225 BC, the birthplace of Paris, then known as Lutetia and, during the medieval period, the heart of the city. Construction of the bridge began in 1579 and completed in 1607.

The bridge is composed of two separate spans, one of five arches joining the left bank to the Île de la Cité, another of seven joining the island to the right bank.

Curiously, the name Point Neuf means “New Bridge”. It was so named to distinguish it from older bridges, but the name remained even after those bridges were replaced.


Gina Rineheart is Australia’s richest person and one of the world’s wealthiest women.

According to the Purnea University list for 2023, the top 10 females, with net worth, are:
#1. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers: $74.8 billion
#2. Alice Walton: $65.3 billion
#3. Julia Koch: $60 billion
#4. Mackenzie Scott: $43.6 billion
#5. Jacqueline Mars: $31.7 billion
#6. Gina Rinehart: $30.2 billion
#7. Miriam Adelson: $27.5 billion
#8. Susanne Klatten: $24.3 billion
#9. Iris Fontbona: $22.8 billion
#10. Yang Huiyan: $22.4 billion

She was mining magnate Lang Hancock's only child. When he died in 1992 he left a bankrupt estate. Rinehart succeeded him as executive chairman and turned a company with severe financial difficulties into the largest private company in Australia and one of the largest mining houses in the world. When Rinehart took over Hancock Prospecting, its total wealth was estimated at A$75 million, which did not account for group liabilities and contingent liabilities. She oversaw an expansion of the company over the following decade

Her political views, conflicts with family and her recent withdrawal of sponsorship for Netball Australia after criticism of her late father’s comments about indigenous Australians, have been divisive and controversial.


The oldest dance still performed is the Austrian shoe-slapping dance.

Known as the Schuhplattler, it is a traditional style of folk dance popular in the regions of Bavaria and Tyrol (southern Germany, Austria and the German speaking regions of northern Italy). In this dance, the performers stomp, clap and strike the soles of their shoes (Schuhe), thighs and knees with their hands held flat (platt).

There are more than 150 basic Schuhplattlers, as well as marches and acrobatic feats that are often interspersed with the basic dance in performance. They may be seen today in Europe and in German immigrant communities around the world.

While the Schuhplattler is still largely performed by adults, it has become increasingly popular with youngsters, who love its colorful costumes and its bouncing, leaping, kicking and choreographed horseplay.

The Schuhplattler is thought to date from Neolithic times, about 3000 BC, but it is first of record in 1030 AD, when a monk in the Tegernsee Abbey of Bavaria described a village dance containing leaps and hand gestures. Over the centuries, the form gradually evolved as farmers, hunters, and woodsmen practiced it in the isolated towns and villages of the Bavarian and Tyrolean Alps.

Schuhplattler postcard, 1901


The name Australia is derived from the Latin australis, meaning "southern", and specifically from the hypothetical Terra Australis.

The land that is now known as Australia was called by various names by the Indigenous peoples who lived there for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. These names varied between different language groups and regions.

For many centuries Europeans believed there must be a vast land in the southern hemisphere, variously called ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ or ‘Unknown South Land’.

After Dutch navigators charted the northern, western and southern coasts of Australia during the 17th Century this newly found continent became known as ‘New Holland’.

English explorer Matthew Flinders suggested the name we use today. He was the first to circumnavigate the continent in 1803, and used the name ‘Australia’ to describe the continent on a hand drawn map in 1804, a reproduction being held by the National Library:

Matthew Flinders, General chart of Terra Australis or Australia, 1814

When the map and book describing his journey was finally published in 1814 the name 'Terra Australis' was used instead, although Flinders stated that his preference was still 'Australia'.

The New South Wales Governor Lachlan Macquarie endorsed the name Australia to replace New Holland in a dispatch to the Colonial Office in London in December 1817, and the name came into common local usage. By 1824 the British Admiralty started to officially use the name, and the term Australia was first used in British legislation in 1828 to apply to the two colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land combined.


By the way, Australia is often colloquially referred to as Oz.

The most common explanation as to how L Frank Baum came up with the name of the land of Oz, where Dorothy is transported, is that when asked the country's name by a child he was first telling the story to, Baum looked to his filing cabinet in the next room, which had two drawers. One drawer was marked A-N, and one marked O-Z. So he called it "Oz" after the letters on the second drawer.

While this story has been told many times, there seems to be little evidence that it's true. Baum himself told at least two different versions of this story.

Others have speculated that it comes from the "Oohs" and "Aahs" his stories produced from readers and listeners.

Still others, looking for hidden meaning in the book, claim it comes from the abbreviation for ounces, or have linked it to Uz (Job's home in the Bible), Shelly's "Ozymandius," or Charles Dickens' pseudonym Boz.

But L. Frank Baum's widow, Maud, once wrote to writer Jack Snow on this subject and stated that it was just a name that Frank had created out of his own mind.


Australia was colonised in January 1788, the official celebration being on January 26 each year, now dubbed by some as a day of shame and referred to by them as Invasion Day. That is a debate for another time.

In 1788 eleven ships carrying crew, crooks, some military men and a few passengers sailed into Port Jackson to establish a penal colony for convicts from England.

Interestingly, Australia’s first civilian police force, the Night Watch, was formed by Governor Arthur Phillip in 1789. This unit was made up of the 12 best-behaved convicts, who had been selected to assist in the keeping of law and order in Sydney Town.

The marines stationed in the new colony were few and supervised prisoners for certain purposes or tasks. The work associated with constables and gaolers was undertaken by the convict-constables.


I came across a fact that the Solar System is travelling round the galaxy at more than eight hundred thousand kilometres/half a million miles per hour.

It immediately put me in mind of The Galaxy Song from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life.

The lyrics:

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown,
And things seem hard or tough,
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft,

And you feel that you've had quite eno-o-o-o-o-ough,

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at 900 miles an hour.
It's orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it's reckoned,
The sun that is the source of all our power.
Now the sun, and you and me, and all the stars that we can see,
Are moving at a million miles a day,
In the outer spiral arm, at 40, 000 miles an hour,
Of a galaxy we call the Milky Way.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars;
It's a hundred thousand light-years side to side;
It bulges in the middle sixteen thousand light-years thick,
But out by us it's just three thousand light-years wide.
We're thirty thousand light-years from Galactic Central Point,
We go 'round every two hundred million years;
And our galaxy itself is one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

Our universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding,
In all of the directions it can whiz;
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth;
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth!

Click on the following link to hear and see the clip . . .


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