Britain's Finest Hour

Britain's finest hour came in the Second World War. In the summer and winter of 1940 Britain, alone, stood against Nazi Germany. In the preceding 15 months, the Nazi war machine had steam-rolled through Western Europe. First carving up Poland with the Soviet Union, and then capturing the low countries and spectacularly defeating France. In the summer of 1940, there were people in the British cabinet who thought Britain could not hold out alone, and the best thing was to sue for peace with Hitler, perhaps similar to Vichy France. However, Churchill stood firm against the likes of Lord Halifax saying there could be no compromise with Hitler. The outlook was certainly bleak, but, the inspirational speeches of Churchill helped firm up British resolve to keep fighting against the tyranny of Hitler's Germany.

Unexpectedly, 1941 and 1942, saw the tide of war change as Germany invaded Russia, and Japan bombed Pearl Harbour. This effectively brought Britain two much more powerful allies and after years of hard fighting, Germany was eventually, comprehensively and decisively beaten. The Thousand Year Reich was destroyed and the top leaders were mostly either killed, arrested or committed suicide at their own hands. It was only at the defeat of Nazi Germany that the true scale and horror of the Nazi state were fully revealed. Though, allied intelligence knew about the persecution of Jews, it was only pictures of concentration camps and the mass extermination of people that brought home the evils of a regime that had sought to conquer the whole of Europe, if not the world.

One irony of the Second World War is that though it was Britain's final hour, it came at a high cost. The war bankrupted Britain creating a national debt of nearly 200% of GDP (by end of 1940s).

The war was also a turning point, no longer would Britain have an Empire, soon countries which had been part of Britain's Empire were given their freedom, such as India in 1947.

From one perspective, Britain gained nothing and lost materially. But, in fighting the Nazi Empire, it was as if Britain learnt that ruling countries against their will was wrong. After fighting fascism in Europe, Britain could no longer morally hold out against other countries claim for self-determination.

By fighting Hitler's Germany, fascist tendencies in Britain were reduced. Before the war, Oswald Mosley's black shirts were a potential political force. The war changed all that. Before the war, Churchill despised the idea of giving India independence. After 1947, even Churchill gave up the pretence of trying to maintain an Empire.

The Second World War also had a profound impact on Britain's society. The war gave the ordinary working people greater expectations, they no longer wanted a return to the staid class ridden society complete with mass unemployment of the 1930s. In 1945, the British even voted against the Conservative war hero - Winston Churchill. Instead there was a Labour landslide and a manifesto for a National Health Service, a Welfare State and a socialist government.

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Inspirational Christian Sayings

"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes in all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
- 1 Corinthians Ch. 13
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Deuteronomy 6
"For what profit is it to a man if he gains the world and loses his own soul?"
- Matthew 24:14,
Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tounges, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present, we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
- 1 Corinthians Ch. 13 New American Standard Bible
Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven
18:3-20 (KJV)
It is not how much we do,
but how much love we put in the doing.
It is not how much we give,
but how much love we put in the giving.
~
If we really want to love
we must learn how to forgive.
~
We can do no great things;
only small things with great love.
~
Love cannot remain by itself -- it has no meaning.
Love has to be put into action, and that action is service

Strengthen the bonds that unite us and eliminate all that has divided us in the past."
- Pope John Paul II

"People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway."
From The Paradoxical Commandments, by Dr. Kent M. Keith. Mother Teresa quoted this often. I wrote a commentary on this text.

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Inspirational Blogs

  1. Zen Habits Leo Babuta's Zen habits is one of the most popular blogs on the internet. It has a range of articles on simplicity, health and self-improvement. It is ad free and has a simple, frugal design. Posts at Zen habits are thought provoking and give ideas for how life could be made more enjoyable and simple. Whatever your perspective there are likely to be some articles that appeal.
  2. Sri Chinmoy Inspiration. Another blog on the them of self-improvement. Practical ideas for the secret of happiness. Articles include Seven Steps to Inner Peace, How to Stop Negative Thoughts and How to learn to meditate.
  3. Perfection Journey. A unique blog in offering coverage of the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race - the world's longest race!
  4. Ashrita Furman - the world record breaking Guinness World Record Breaker - + 300 records and counting. Also offers interesting perspective on how meditation has helped him break records.
  5. The Change Blog - great blog with inspirational articles on how to change your life by Peter and a team of contributors
  6. Pick The Brain - articles on health, self-improvement and self-growth
  7. Spirit Blog

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Inspirational People
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Great Mistakes of the 1960s

train

The 1960s was an era of great change and social mobility. It was an era of rapidly rising living standards (see: Economy of 1960s). But, it was also an era of great short sightedness as some bad mistakes were made.

Closure of Railway lines. The Beeching cuts were widely hated in the country. But, Beeching didn't care for popular dissent, he saw the closure of the railways as an economic necessity. Why should government subsidise railways that were unprofitable and no one used any more?

In one sense it seems a strong argument. But, unfortunately, the 'economic necessity' failed to include the wider social costs and social benefits (such as lower congestion, pollution, and lower rate of fatal accidents). Also it failed to see the rapid growth of train use in the 1980s and 1990s. Fed up with gridlock on the roads, many people have wanted to start using trains again, alas many good lines are now forever lost, usually with new roads built over old tracks. It was a short sighted move which destroyed much of the UK's vital infrastructure. I have to admit, it's not just economics, as trains have an emotive appeal. A great viaduct is such a beautiful sight. By comparison a dual carriageway feels so soulless. Economics and utility.

Ugly Architecture.
ugly

For some reason, the 1960s was an era of utilitarian planning, the cheap, efficient and hideously ugly concrete block found itself plonked into the most beautiful surroundings. A city such as Oxford, with perhaps the most delightful architecture in the world, found the most ugly buildings springing up on the back of cheap and cheerful town Plannings. (See: Ugly and beautiful of Oxford)

The Tower Blocks

Another 1960s utilitarian dream - cheap and affordable housing in the centre of towns. They might have been cheap, but, they weren't cheerful. Becoming magnets for crime and vandalism. They have been gradually been pulled down after only a few decades, as we realise the mistakes we made.

Complacency

There was a complacency in the British economy. Unions and employers made little effort at mutual co-operation and we fell behind continental and Asian rivals. Unions became very powerful and demanding, but, this led to greater confrontation and led to a prime Minister determined to bring them down, which she did.

Planning Failures
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Beautiful Architecture

architecture
Radcliffe Camera Square

architecture
Bodleian Library and Radcliffe Camera Oxford

architecture
The Sheldonian Theatre in distance

architecture
Merton College Chapel

architecture
Ashmoleum museum in snow.

architecture
Front of Ashmoleum


architecture


Radcliffe Camera and Brasenose College

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Random Interesting Facts


French subway stations aren't usually used as parking places
  • Coca Cola was invented by John Pemerton in 1886. It used to be made from coca leaves and could contain traces of cocaine (from 0.1% to 0.9% depending on where grown) Though it is no longer made with cocaine.
  • The Guinness World Record for holding the most Guinness Records is set by Ashrita Furman. Ashrita has set - 303 - official Guinness Records since 1979 and currently holds - 121 (sept 2010)
  • A googol is a large number. the digit 1 followed by one hundred zeros: 10,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000,­000.
  • TYPEWRITER is the longest word that can be made using the letters only on one row of the keyboard.
  • The most common name in the world is Mohammed.
  • 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
  • The 57 on Heinz ketchup bottles represents the number of varieties of pickles the company once had.
  • There are more than 1,700 references to gems and precious stones in the King James translation of the Bible.
  • The bagpipe was originally made from the whole skin of a dead sheep.
  • No piece of normal-size paper can be folded in half more than 7 times.
  • 2,520 can be divided by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 without having a fractional leftover
  • It is unknown if odd perfect numbers exist
  • A perfect number is a number whose divisors add up to itself such as 28: 1+2+4+7+14=28
  • 5% of the world population lives in the US but 22% of the world's prisons population are held in the US.
  • If you walk outside George Orwell's old house in London you are now captured on surveillance cameras 33 times.
  • Approximately 105 million bicycles are made every year. This is double the number of motor cars made every year.
  • In Chinese the words for 'crisis' and 'opportunity' are the same.
  • The Netherlands has the highest rate of cycling with an average of 2.5 Km per day per person. In the US, this rate is 0.1 Km per person. In the UK 0.2Km (cycling facts)
  • The Rhubarb Triangle is a small area in West Yorkshire between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell. At one time, the 'Rhubarb triangle' produced 90% of the world's forced winter rhubarb. (Yorkshire Facts)
  • Everything weighs one per cent less at the equator.
  • The mosquito has killed more human beings than any other animal.
  • Birmingham(UK) has 22 more miles of canals than Venice.
  • 9 out of every 10 living thing lives in the ocean.
  • Honey is the only food that does not spoil. Honey found in the tombs of Egyptian Pharoahs has been tasted by archaeologists and found edible.
  • HThere have been over 2,00 known nuclear bomb explosions since World War Two.
  • A snail's reproductive organs are in it's head.
  • An adult giraffe´s kick is so powerful it can decapitate a lion.
  • The largest toy distributor in the world is Mcdonalds.
  • The shortest war in history was between Zanzibar and Britain in 1896.Zanzibar surrendered after 38 minutes.
  • Each king in a pack of playing cards represents a great king from history: Spades-King David , Clubs-Alexander the Great ,Hearts-Charlemagne and Diamonds-Julius Caesar.

A random photo I took in Oxfordshire.

More bizarre facts try: Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Extraordinary Book of Facts: And Bizarre Information (Bathroom Readers)
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