Voltaire (Part One)

French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) was born 21 November 1694 in Paris. He was educated by the Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand (1704–1711), where he was taught Latin, theology, and rhetoric. By the time he left school, Voltaire had decided he wanted to be a writer, against the wishes of his father, who wanted him to become a lawyer. Voltaire, pretending to work in Paris as an assistant to a notary, spent much of his time writing poetry. When his father found out, he sent Voltaire to study law, this time in Caen, Normandy. But the young man continued to write, producing essays and historical studies. Voltaire’s wit made him popular among some of the aristocratic families with whom he mixed. In 1713, his father obtained a job for him as a secretary to the new French ambassador in the Netherlands, the marquis de Châteauneuf, the brother of Voltaire’s godfather At The Hague, Voltaire fell in love with a French Protestant refugee named Catherine Olympe Dunoyer Their affair, considered scandalous, was discovered by de Châteauneuf and Voltaire was forced to return to France.

Most of Voltaire’s early life revolved around Paris. From early on, Voltaire had trouble with the authorities for critiques of the government. As a result, he was twice sentenced to prison and once to temporary exile to England. One satirical verse, in which Voltaire accused the Régent of incest with his daughter, resulted in an eleven-month imprisonment in the Bastille. The Comédie-Française had agreed in January 1717 to stage his debut play, Œdipe, and it opened in mid-November 1718, seven months after his release. Its immediate critical and financial success established his reputation. Both the Régent and King George I of Great Britain presented Voltaire with medals as a mark of their appreciation. He mainly argued for religious tolerance and freedom of thought. He campaigned to eradicate priestly and aristo-monarchical authority, and supported a constitutional monarchy that protects people’s rights.

Voltaire’s next play, Artémire, was published 1720 and set in ancient Macedonia. He next wrote an epic poem about Henry IV of France that he had begun in early 1717. This was eventually published in The Hague In the Netherlands, where Voltaire was struck and impressed by the openness and tolerance of Dutch society. On returning to France, he secured a second publisher in Rouen, who agreed to publish La Henriade clandestinely. After Voltaire’s recovery from a month-long smallpox infection in November 1723, the first copies were smuggled into Paris and distributed. While the poem was an instant success, after heavy revision Voltaire’s next play, Mariamne,opened at the Comédie-Française in April 1725 to a much-improved reception. It was among the entertainments provided at the wedding of Louis XV and Marie Leszczyńska in September 1725.

In 1726, a young French nobleman, the chevalier de Rohan-Chabot, taunted Voltaire about his change of name, and Voltaire retorted that his name would be honored while de Rohan would dishonor his. Infuriated, de Rohan arranged for Voltaire to be beaten up by thugs a few days later. Seeking compensation, redress, or revenge, Voltaire challenged de Rohan to a duel, but the aristocratic de Rohan family arranged for Voltaire to be arrested and imprisoned in the Bastille on 17 April 1726 without a trial or an opportunity to defend himself. Voltaire suggested he be exiled instead so On 2 May, 1726 he was escorted from the Bastille to Calais, where he was to embark for Britain.


PART TWO

After moving to England, Voltaire lived in Wandsworth, with acquaintances including Everard Fawkener. From December 1727 to June 1728 he lodged at Maiden Lane, Covent Garden. Voltaire circulated throughout English high society, meeting Alexander Pope, John Gay, Jonathan Swift, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, and many other members of the nobility and royalty. Voltaire’s exile in Great Britain greatly influenced his thinking. He was intrigued by Britain’s constitutional monarchy in contrast to French absolutism, and by the country’s greater support of the freedoms of speech and religion. He was influenced by the writers of the age, and developed an interest in earlier English literature, especially the works of Shakespeare, whom he saw as an example that French writers might emulate, since French drama, despite being more polished, lacked on-stage action. Later, however, as Shakespeare’s influence began growing in France, Voltaire tried to set a contrary example with his own plays, decrying what he considered Shakespeare’s barbarities. Voltaire may have been present at the funeral of Isaac Newton, and met Newton’s niece, Catherine Conduit. In 1727, he published two essays in English, Upon the Civil Wars of France, Extracted from Curious Manuscripts and Upon Epic Poetry of the European Nations, from Homer Down to Milton.

In 1730 Voltaire returned to France, and after a few months living in Dieppe, the authorities permitted him to return to Paris At a dinner, French mathematician Charles Marie de La Condamine proposed buying up the lottery that was organized by the French government to pay off its debts, and Voltaire joined the consortium, earning perhaps a million livre themanaged to convince the Court of Finances that he was of good conduct and so was able to take control of a capital inheritance from his father that had hitherto been tied up in trust. His next play Zaïre, published in 1733 carried a dedication to Fawkener praising English liberty and commerce. He also published his views on British attitudes toward government, literature, religion and science in a collection of essays in letter form entitled Letters Concerning the English Nation. However Because the publisher released the book without the approval of the royal censor and Voltaire regarded the British constitutional monarchy as more developed and more respectful of human rights (particularly religious tolerance) than its French counterpart, the French publication of Letters caused a huge scandal; the book was publicly burnt and banned, and Voltaire was forced to flee Paris again.

In 1733, Voltaire met Émilie du Châtelet, a married mother of three who was 12 years his junior and with whom he was to have an affair for 16 yearss. To avoid arrest after the publication of Letters, Voltaire took refuge at her husband’s château at Cirey-sur-Blaise, on the borders of Champagne and Lorraine. Voltaire paid for the building’s renovation, and Émilie’s husband, the Marquis du Châtelet, sometimes stayed at the château with his wife and her lover. Voltaire and the Marquise du Châtelet also collected around 21,000 books. Voltaire continued to write plays, such as Mérope (or La Mérope française) and began his long research into science and history having been influenced by the works of Sir Isaac Newton. Voltaire strongly believed in Newton’s theories; he performed experiments in optics at Cirey,[60] and was one of the sources for the famous story of Newton and the apple falling from the tree. In 1735, Voltaire was visited by Francesco Algarotti, who was preparing a book about Newton in Italian. The Marquise translated Newton’s Latin Principia into French in full, and it remained the definitive French translation into the 21st century.

Voltaire was also curious about the philosophies of Gottfried Leibniz, a contemporary and rival of Newton, although Voltaire remained a firm Newtonian. Voltaire published his own book Elements of Newton’s Philosophy which made Newton accessible and understandable to a far greater public, and the Marquise wrote a celebratory review in the Journal des savants. Voltaire’s book was instrumental in bringing about general acceptance of Newton’s optical and gravitational theories in France.

Voltaire and the Marquise studied history, particularly those persons who had contributed to civilization. Voltaire’s second essay in English had been “Essay upon the Civil Wars in France”. It was followed by La Henriade, an epic poem on the French King Henri IV, glorifying his attempt to end the Catholic-Protestant massacres with the Edict of Nantes, and by a historical novel on King Charles XII of Sweden. Voltaire and the Marquise also explored philosophy, particularly metaphysics, the branch of philosophy that deals with being and with what lies beyond the material realm, such as whether or not there is a God and whether people have souls. Voltaire and the Marquise analyzed the Bible Voltaire concluded that church and state and religious freedom should be separate

In 1736, Frederick the Great, then Crown Prince of Prussia began corresponding with Voltaire. Voltaire also moved to Holland for two months and met the scientists Herman Boerhaave and Gravesande. Between 1739 and 1740 Voltaire lived in Brussels, before travelling to the Hague on behalf of Frederick in an attempt to dissuade a dubious publisher, van Duren, from printing without permission Frederick’s Anti-Machiavel. Voltaire and Frederick (now King) met for the first time in Moyland Castle near Cleves and in November Voltaire was Frederick’s guest in Berlin for two weeks. In 1742 they met in Aix-la-Chapelle. Voltaire was sent to Frederick’s court in 1743 by the French government as an envoy and spy to gauge Frederick’s military intentions in the War of the Austrian Succession. Though deeply committed to the Marquise, Voltaire by 1744 found life at the château confining. On a visit to Paris that year, he found a new love—his niece Marie Louise Mignot !? And they lived together, and remained together until Voltaire’s death. Meanwhile, the Marquise also took a lover, the Marquis de Saint-Lambert.

The Marquise tragically died in childbirth in September 1749, Voltaire briefly returned to Paris and in mid-1750 moved to Prussia at the invitation of Frederick the Great. The Prussian king (with the permission of Louis XV) made him a chamberlain in his household, appointed him to the Order of Merit, and gave him a salary of 20,000 French livres a year” He had rooms at Sanssouci and Charlottenburg Palace and in 1751 he completed Micromégas, a piece of science fiction involving ambassadors from another planet witnessing the follies of humankind. However, his relationship with Frederick the Great began to deteriorate after he was accused of theft and forgery by a Jewish financier, Abraham Hirschel, who had invested in Saxon government bonds on behalf of Voltaire at a time when Frederick was involved in sensitive diplomatic negotiations with Saxony.


PART THREE

He also encountered other difficulties: an argument with Maupertuis, the president of the Berlin Academy of Science and a former rival for Émilie’s affections, provoked Voltaire’s Diatribe du docteur Akakia (“Diatribe of Doctor Akakia”), which satirized some of Maupertuis’s theories and his abuse of power in his persecutions of a mutual acquaintance, Johann Samuel König. This greatly angered Frederick. So in 1752, Voltaire offered to resign as chamberlain and return his insignia of the Order of Merit; at first, Frederick refused until eventually permitting Voltaire to leave.
While returning to France, Voltaire stayed at Leipzig and Gotha for a month each, and Kassel for two weeks, before arriving at Frankfurt wherhe was detained by Frederick’s agents, for over three weeks while they, Voltaire and Frederick argued over the return of a satirical book of poetry Frederick had lent to Voltaire. Marie Louise joined him in June but left in July after some unwanted advances from of one of Frederick’s agents and Voltaire’s luggage was ransacked.

Voltaire attempted to vilify Frederick for his agents’ actions at Frankfurt Then composed Mémoires pour Servir à la Vie de M. de Voltaire, that paints a largely negative picture of his time spent with Frederick. Voltaire’s slow progress toward Paris continued through Mainz, Mannheim, Strasbourg, and Colmar, however in 1754 Louis XV banned him from Paris so instead he turned for Geneva, and bought a large estate (Les Délices) in 1755. However the law in Geneva, banning theatrical performances, and the publication of The Maid of Orleans against his will soured his relationship with Calvinist Genevans. So in 1758, he bought an estate at Ferney, on the French side of the Franco-Swiss border. In 1759, Voltaire published Candide, ou l’Optimisme (Candide, or Optimism) which satirizes Leibniz’s philosophy of optimistic determinism. Voltaire frequently entertained distinguished guests, such as James Boswell, Adam Smith, Giacomo Casanova, and Edward Gibbon. In 1764, he published the Dictionnaire philosophique, a series of articles mainly on Christian history and dogmas.

From 1762, he began to champion unjustly persecuted people, such as Huguenot merchant Jean Calas Who had been tortured to death in 1763, supposedly because he had murdered his eldest son for wanting to convert to Catholicism, His possessions were confiscated and his two daughters were taken from his widow and were forced into Catholic convents. Voltaire, seeing this as a clear case of religious persecution, managed to overturn the conviction in 1765. Voltaire was initiated into Freemasonry in 1778 And attended la Loge des Neuf Sœurs in Paris, where he became an Entered Apprentice Freemason. He also returned to Paris, however The arduous five-day journey took it’s toll on the 83-year-old, and he died on 30 May 1778. However Because of his well-known criticism of the Church, which he had refused to retract before his death, Voltaire was denied a Christian burial in Paris,but friends and relations managed to bury his body secretly at the Abbey of Scellières in Champagne, where Marie Louise’s brother was abbé. His heart and brain were embalmed separately.

World Television Day

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 21 November as World Television Day commemorating the date on which the first World Television Forum was held in 1996 it brought together leading figures from the media industry to analyze the growing impact that TV had on decision-making and public opinion when it comes to issues of worldwide peace and security. In December 1996 the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the 21st of November World Television Day, the same year the first World Television Forum was held. Acording to the United Nations, this decision was taken in order to give recognition of the increasing impact television has had on decision-making by bringing various conflicts and threats to peace and security to the world’s attention, as well as its coverage of other major issues, including economic and social.

World Television Day is not meant to be so much a celebration of the electronic medium itself, but rather of the philosophy which it represents–a philosophy of openness and transparency of world issues. Television has long been thought to represent communication and globalization in the contemporary world. However, not all of the government representatives present saw matters quite that way. The delegation from Germany said, “Television is only one means of information and an information medium to which a considerable majority of the world population has no access… That vast majority could easily look at World Television Day as a rich man’s day. They do not have access to television. There are more important information media and here I would mention radio in particular.”

World Television Day can be marked by watching television. However instead of watching vulgar reality shows offering little to no educational value or interest of any kind to their audience it may be a good opportunity to rewatch and relive some of the greatest moments of television such as David Attenborough, or some other groundbreaking series such as Cosmos, Important Televised Events like the moon landing, Royal Events or Live Aid,  or any other important events to illustrate the importance of rapidly advancing technologically in bringing news and events into people’s homes, forever changing their lives and how they perceived the world.

1954 marked the launch of Disney’s “Wonderful World of Color”, a family-friendly variety program that mixed iconic cartoons, drama and documentary programming. The very first televised presidential debate between Republican Vice President Richard Nixon and his challenger, relatively unknown Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy in 1960 changed the presidential elections forever. For the first time ever, American voters actually saw the candidates present their ideas, which worked greatly in favor of the young and handsome Kennedy, who went on to win the election. And few moments, if any, in television history could ever surpass Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Ed “Buzz” Aldrin’s moon landing in 1969, which many people consider to be a pivotal moment in their lives until this very day. After that, nothing seemed impossible.

World Television Day was established as a way of bringing focus back to these issues on an annual basis. In years gone by major TV stations have come together on the day to broadcast tributes to the importance of television in people’s lives. The obvious way for anyone to celebrate is to turn on their TV and watch. Those that want to become more involved and have ideas about how to honor the day are welcomed to send their thoughts to the official website. However not everybody was happy about this and Opposition to this declaration took the form of 11 abstentions to a vote on the resolution; in expressing their opposition, the delegation from Germany said:

“ There are already three United Nations days encompassing similar subjects: World Press Freedom Day; World Telecommunication Day; and World Development Information Day. To add another day does not make much sense… Television is only one means of information and an information medium to which a considerable majority of the world population has no access… That vast majority could easily look at World Television Day as a rich man’s day. They do not have access to television. There are more important information media and here I would mention radio in particular. We think it is more important to enhance the role of those media than that of television.”


Anne McCaffrey

Best known for the Dragonriders of Pern science fiction series, prolific American Born Irish Novelist Anne Inez McCaffrey Sadly died at the age of 85 on 21 November 2011 at her home in Ireland, following a stroke.

McCaffrey was Born 1 April 1926 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and attended Stuart Hall boarding school in Staunton, Virginia), and graduated from Montclair High School in New Jersey. In 1947 she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe Collegewith a degree in Slavonic Languages and Literature.   In 1950 she married Horace Wright Johnson who shared her interests in music, opera and ballet. They had three children: Alec Anthony, Todd and Georgeanne (“Gigi”, Georgeanne Kennedy). Except for a short time in Düsseldorf, the family lived for most of a decade in Wilmington, Delaware.

They moved to Sea Cliff, Long Island in 1965, and McCaffrey became a full-time writer. McCaffrey served a term as secretary-treasurer of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1968 to 1970. In addition to handcrafting the Nebula Award trophies, her responsibilities included production of two monthly newsletters and their distriution by mail to the membership. In 1970 McCaffrey emigrated to Ireland with her two younger children after filing for divorce. Ireland had recently exempted resident artists from income taxes, Alongside fellow science-fiction author Harry Harrison. McCaffrey’s mother soon joined the family in Dublin in 1971. McCaffrey was also guest of honor at her first British science-fiction convention. It was here that she met British reproductive biologist Jack Cohen, who would be a consultant on the science of Pern.

McCaffrey had had two short stories published during the 1950s. “Freedom of the Race”, about women impregnated by aliens) was written in 1952 and the second story, “The Lady in the Tower”, was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She was also lnvited to the Milford Writer’s Workshop, where participants each brought a story to be critiqued. In 1959 she wrote “The Ship Who Sang”, the story which began the Brain & Brawn Ship series, which she considered her best story and her favorite. McCaffrey then wrote two more “Ship” stories and began her first novel , Restoree (1967), which featured an intelligent, survivor-type woman as the protagonist”.

Her next novel Decision at Doona opens on “an overcrowded planet where just talking too loud made you a social outcast”. McCaffrey also competed for the 1971 publication Dragonquest and two Gothic novels for Dell, The Mark of Merlin and The Ring of Fear. With a contract for The White Dragon (which would complete the “original trilogy” with Ballantine), The young-adult book market provided a crucial opportunity. and McCaffrey started the Pern story of Menolly. Starting with “The Smallest Dragonboy” , the Crystal Singer and Dragonsong and The tales of Menolly are continued in Dragonsinger: Harper of Pern, and Dragondrums as the “Harper Hall Trilogy”.

Whilst brainstorming about dragons she devised a “technologically regressed survival planet” whose people were united against a threat from space .The dragons became the biologically renewable air force, and their riders ‘the few’ who, like the RAF pilots in World War Two, fought against incredible odds day in, day out—and won.”The first Pern story, “Weyr Search”, was published in 1967 It won the 1968 Hugo Award for best novella, voted by participants in the annual World Science Fiction Convention.

The second Pern story, “Dragonrider”, won the 1969 Nebula Award for best novella, voted annually by the Science Fiction Writers of America. McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo for fiction and the first to win a Nebula.”Weyr Search” covers the recruitment of a young woman, Lessa, to establish a telepathic bond with a queen dragon at its hatching, thus becoming a dragonrider and the leader of a Weyr community. “Dragonrider” explores the growth of the queen dragon Ramoth, and the training of Lessa and Ramoth. The third story, “Crack Dust, Black Dust”, was not published until 1974–1975.

She next wrote A Time When, which would become the first part of The White Dragon which was released with new editions of the first two Pern books, with cover art illustrated by Michael Whelan. It was the first science-fiction book by a woman on the New York Times bestseller list. In 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named McCaffrey its 22nd Grand Master, an annual award to living writers of fantasy and science fiction. She was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame on 17 June 2006 and her novels still remain popular. I also think Michael Whelan’s illustrations are pretty fantastic too.

Björk

Icelandic singer, songwriter, composer, actress, record producer, and DJ Björk Guðmundsdóttir was born 21 November 1965 in Reykjavík. Raised in Reykjavík, she began her music career at age 11 and first gained international recognition as the lead singer of the alternative rock band the Sugarcubes, whose 1987 single “Birthday” was a hit on US and UK indie stations and a favorite among music critics.

In 1986, Björk wed Þór Eldon. On 8 June the same year, she gave birth to their son, Sindri Eldon Þórsson. Soon after Sindri was born, Björk performed in her first acting role on The Juniper Tree, a tale of witchcraft based on the Brothers Grimm story, directed by Nietzchka Keene. Björk played the role of Margit, a girl whose mother has been killed for practicing witchcraft. That summer. During 1986 former band member Einar Örn and Eldon also formed the arts collective Smekkleysa (“Bad Taste” in Icelandic), created with the intention of being both a record label and book publishing company. Her friends, Melax and Sigtryggur from Kukl, and Bragi Ólafsson and Friðrik Erlingson from Purrkur Pillnikk, joined the group. They were initially called Þukl, but they were advertised as Kukl (the name of the previous band). At a later concert supporting Icelandic band Stuðmenn, they addressed themselves as Sykurmolarnir (“The Sugarcubes” in Icelandic). Their first double A-side single “Einn mol’á mann”, which contained the songs “Ammæli” (“Birthday”) and “Köttur” (“Cat”), was released on Björk’s 21st birthday. The band signed to One Little Indian. Their first English single, “Birthday”, was released in the United Kingdom in 1987; a week later, it was declared single of the week by Melody Maker. The Sugarcubes also signed a distribution deal with Elektra Records in the United States and recorded their first album, Life’s Too Good, which was released in 1988. After the release of the album, Eldon and Björk divorced soon after the birth of their child despite being in the same group. The album went on to sell more than one million copies worldwide. Björk contributed as a background vocalist on the albums Loftmynd, Höfuðlausnir, Hættuleg hljómsveit & glæpakvendið Stella by Megas,

During 1988, The Sugarcubes toured North America and also appeared on Saturday Night Live. Björk alone contributed a rendition of the Christmas song “Jólakötturinn” (“The Christmas Cat”) on the compilation Hvít Er Borg Og Bær. The band went on hiatus following the lack of reception of Here Today, Tomorrow Next Week! and a lengthy international tour, Björk started working on her solo projects. In 1990 she provided background vocals on Gums, an album by a band called Bless. In the same year, she recorded Gling-Gló, a collection of popular jazz and original work, with the jazz group Tríó Guðmundar Ingólfssonar, which as of 2011 was still her best-selling album in her home country. Björk also contributed vocals to 808 State’s album ex:el, with whom she cultivated her interest in house music. She contributed vocals on the songs “Qmart” and on “Ooops”, which was released as a single in the UK in 1991 She also contributed vocals to the song “Falling”, on the album Island by Current 93 and Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and also met Corky Hale, with whom she had a recording session that ended up as a track on her future album Debut.

Björk then decided to leave the band to pursue her solo career, but their contract included the making of one last album, Stick Around for Joy with a subsequent promotional tour. Björk was featured on two tracks of the soundtrack for the 1992 film Remote Control (known as Sódóma Reykjavík in Iceland). The Sugarcubes split up after they played one last show in Reykjavík. Rolling Stone has called them “the biggest rock band to emerge from Iceland.” Following the breakup of the Sugarcubes, Björk embarked on a solo career in 1993 with the pop albums Debut and Post (1995). Initially being branded as a “pixie” by press, Björk moved to London to pursue a solo career; she began working with producer Nellee Hooper (who had produced Massive Attack, among others). Their partnership produced Björk’s first international solo hit, “Human Behaviour”, a clattering dance track based on a guitar rhythm sampled from Antônio Carlos Jobim. In most countries, the song was not widely played on radio, but its music video gained strong airtime on MTV. It was directed by Michel Gondry, who became a frequent collaborator for Björk.[25] Her first adult solo album, Debut, was released in June 1993 to positive reviews; it was named album of the year by NME and eventually went platinum in the United States.[26] Debut was the leap Björk made from being in numerous bands during her teens and early twenties to her solo career. She named the album Debut to signify a start of something new. Debut had a mix of songs Björk had been writing since she was a teenager, as well as more recent lyrical collaborations with Hooper. The dance-oriented album varied in instrumentation. One single from the album, “Venus as a Boy”, featured a Bollywood-influenced string arrangement. Björk covered the jazz standard “Like Someone in Love” to the accompaniment of a harp, and the final track, “The Anchor Song”, was sung with only a saxophone ensemble for accompaniment.

At the 1994 Brit Awards, Björk won the awards for Best International Female and Best International Newcomer. The success of Debut enabled her to collaborate with British and other artists on one-off tracks. She worked with David Arnold on “Play Dead”, the theme to the 1993 film The Young Americans (which appeared as a bonus track on a re-release of Debut), collaborated on two songs for Tricky’s Nearly God project, appeared on the track “Lilith” for the album Not for Threes by Plaid, and co-wrote the song “Bedtime Story” for Madonna’s 1994 album Bedtime Stories. Björk also had an uncredited role as a runway model in the 1994 film Prêt-à-Porter.

Post was Björk’s second solo studio album. Released in June 1995, the album was produced in conjunction with Nellee Hooper, Tricky, Graham Massey of 808 State, and electronica producer Howie B. Building on the success of Debut, Björk continued to pursue different sounds, taking particular interest in dance and techno. Production by Tricky and Howie B also provided trip hop/electronica-like sounds on tracks like “Possibly Maybe” and “Enjoy”. It was these producers’ influence along with older friend Graham Massey that inspired Björk to create material like the storming industrial beats of “Army of Me”. The album was ranked number 7 in Spin’s “Top 90 Albums of the ’90s” list and number 75 in its “100 Greatest Albums, 1985–2005” list. Post and Homogenic were placed back to back on Pitchfork Media’s “Top Albums of the ’90s” list at numbers 21 and 20, respectively. In 2003, the album was ranked number 373 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Although Björk continued to receive more mainstream attention for her videos than her singles, Post included several UK pop hits and was eventually certified platinum in the US. Björk also contributed to the 1995 Hector Zazou collaborative album Chansons des mers froides, singing the traditional Icelandic song “Vísur Vatnsenda-Rósu”. During this period, Björk complained of being hounded by paparazzi. In 1996, Björk arrived at Bangkok International Airport with her son Sindri after a long haul flight; reporters were present, despite Björk’s early request that the press leave her and her son alone until a press conference While Björk was walking away from the reporters, Julie Kaufman, a female reporter, began to ask questions to Sindri, Björk’s then lunged at her and knocked her to the ground. Björk’s record company said that the reporter had been pestering Björk for four days. Björk later apologized to Kaufman, who declined to involve the police. In 1997 she boldly changed her artistic direction with the album Homogenic, adopting a much darker sound and image. Her follow up albums, Vespertine (2001) and Medúlla (2004), were much more toned down in nature, described by Björk herself as more “introverted”.

Over her four-decade career, she has developed an eclectic musical style that draws on a range of influences and genres spanning electronic, pop, experimental, classical, trip hop, IDM, and avant-garde music, while collaborating with a range of artists and exploring a variety of multimedia projects. Several of Björk’s albums have reached the top 20 on the Billboard 200 chart, the most recent being Vulnicura (2015). Björk has had 31 singles reach the top 40 on pop charts around the world, with 22 top 40 hits in the UK, including the top 10 hits “It’s Oh So Quiet”, “Army of Me”, and “Hyperballad” She is reported to have sold between 20 and 40 million records worldwide as of 2015. She won the 2010 Polar Music Prize from the Royal Swedish Academy of Music in recognition of her “deeply personal music and lyrics, her precise arrangements and her unique voice. Björk was included in Time’s 2015 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. She was ranked both sixtieth and eighty-first in Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest singers and songwriters lists respectively. Björk also won five BRIT Awards, and has been nominated for 14 Grammy Awards.

Outside her music career, she starred in the 2000 Lars von Trier film Dancer in the Dark. She won the Best Actress Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival,and was nominated for an Academy Award for her soundtrack contribution, “I’ve Seen It All”. Her 2011 album Biophillia was marketed as an interactive app album with its own education program. Björk has also been an advocate for environmental causes in her home country Iceland. A full-scale retrospective exhibition dedicated to Björk was held at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 2015.

Alex James (Blur)

Alex James, the bassist with seminal Bitpop band Blur was Born November 21st 1968. Blur were Formed in London in 1988 as Seymour, consisting of singer/keyboardist Damon Albarn, guitarist/singer Graham Coxon, bassist Alex James and drummer Dave Rowntree. Blur’s debut album Leisure (1991) incorporated the sounds of Madchester and shoegazing. Following a stylistic change influenced by English guitar pop groups such as The Kinks, The Beatles and XTC, Blur released Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993), Parklife (1994) and The Great Escape (1995). As a result, the band helped to popularise the Britpop genre and achieved mass popularity in the UK, aided by a chart battle with rival band Oasis in 1995 dubbed “The Battle of Britpop”.

In recording their follow-up, Blur (1997), the band underwent another reinvention, showing influence from the lo-fi style of American indie rock groups. “Song 2″, one of the album’s singles, brought Blur mainstream success in the United States. Their next album, 13 (1999) saw the band members experimenting with electronic and gospel music, and featured more personal lyrics from Albarn. In May 2002, Coxon left Blur during the recording of their seventh album Think Tank (2003). Containing electronic sounds and more minimal guitar work, the album was marked by Albarn’s growing interest in hip hop and African music. After a 2003 tour without Coxon, Blur did no studio work or touring as a band, as members engaged in other projects.

In 2008 Blur reunited, with Coxon back in the fold, for a series of concerts and have continued to release several singles and retrospective releases. In 2009 Blur reunited, with Graham Coxon back in the fold, for a series of concerts and during the following years they released several singles and retrospective compilations, and toured internationally. In 2012, the group received a Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. Their first major release in twelve years, The Magic Whip (2015), became the sixth consecutive Blur studio album to top the British charts.

World Hello Day

World Hello Day Takes place Every year, on November 21. The objective of World Hello Day is to say hello to at least ten people on the day. The message is for world leaders to use communication rather than force to settle conflicts. Participants verbally greet ten people or more on that day as an expression of the importance of personal communication in preserving peace. World Hello Day was founded in 1973 by Brian McCormack, a Ph.D. graduate of Arizona State University, and Michael McCormack, a graduate of Harvard University, in response to the Yom Kippur War. The McCormack brothers mailed 1,360 letters, in seven languages, to government leaders worldwide to encourage participation in the first World Hello Day. Since then World Hello Day has been observed by people in 180 countries.

Any person can participate in World Hello Day simply by greeting ten people or more. This demonstrates the importance of personal communication for preserving peace. World Hello Day was begun in response to the conflict between Egypt and Israel in the fall of 1973. People around the world use the occasion of World Hello Day as an opportunity to express their concern for world peace. Beginning with a simple greeting on World Hello Day, their activities send a message to leaders, encouraging them to use communication rather than force to settle conflicts. In its first year, World Hello Day gained the support of 15 countries. As a global event World Hello Day joins local participation in a global expression of peace.

Thirty-one winners of the Nobel Peace Prize are among the people who have noted World Hello Day’s value as an instrument for preserving peace and as an occasion that makes it possible for anyone in the world to contribute to the process of creating peace. Other supporters include almost 100 authors, entertainers, and world leaders, including novellist Michael McCormack has recalled since a young age of seven that he enjoyed writing and acting. He graduated Harvard University in 1974 and, during the fall of his senior year in 1973, he and his brother, Brian McCormack, started World Hello Day. Throughout his college years, McCormack was editor of the first-year literary magazine and a writer for the Lampoon, a semi-secret organization that publishes a humor magazine. Since the creation of World Hello Day, Michael J. McCormack has written several novels including, Gandhi’s Last Book and “The Quotations of Chairman Meow”, as well as plays like “Farewell Fillmore High”. After graduating from Harvard, McCormack moved to New York City. In 1999, Michael McCormack was accepted to the University of California at Los Angeles film school for directing and subsequently moved to LA from Nebraska to follow his directing aspirations.


More events and holidays taking place on 21 November

Alascattalo Day
False Confession Day
National Stuffing Day
Pumpkin Pie Day
World Television Day