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After his death in 1904, the body of the Russian physician and playwright Anton Chekhov was shipped back from Germany to Russia in an ice-filled railway carriage marked ‘For Oysters’.

Countries with a higher Human Development Index have more income equality.

Less than two years into his term as Prime Minister of Australia, Harold Holt dove into the high tide in Melbourne and was never seen again. The 59-year-old had nearly drowned two months earlier. Ironically, there now is a Harold Holt Swim Centre in Melbourne.

Hindus celebrate the feast of Holi-Phagwa by throwing coloured powder on each other.

The Metamorphoses of Apuleius, which St. Augustine referred to as The Golden Ass (Asinus Aureus), is the only Ancient Roman novel in Latin to survive in its entirety.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Is Beauty Anti-feminist?

Feminist discourse in favour of the enhancement of the female body mainly revolves around the argument that it need not be inherently anti-feminist for a woman to conform herself to a conventional beauty ideal.

Common justifications for this view include “as long as you do it for you,” or “as long as it makes you feel good” – observe that these arguments seem to revolve around the thought that the artificial enhancement of femininity is a matter of choice for the female in question. It also makes the rather bold assumption that this choice exists outside the influences of society – that is to say, make-up, high heels and g-string apologists argue as long as a woman has convinced herself that her conformity is “her choice”, there can be nothing demeaning or anti-feminist about her behaviour.

“I am a feminist, and I wear make-up and dress in a distinctly feminine manner (which sometimes means a distinctly uncomfortable manner, as with high heels), and try as I might I cannot fully reconcile the two.”
– Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

The main problem with the apologist argument seems to be it completely disregards the fact we exist ‘in relation to each other’, a view held by the 20th century French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard. This relation not only makes the conventional beauty ideals difficult to forsake, it also points out that a total independence of the patriarchal turning-women-into-vacuous-playthings culture will be hard to achieve.

Choose Your English (xi)

respectfully / respectively
Doing something respectfully means full of respect and admiration. But respectively means “in the order given”.

simple / simplistic
Simple is not quite the same as simplistic. Being simplistic means trying to explain something complicated as being simpler than it is; that is, oversimplifying. Something that is simple is uncomplicated.

stationary / stationery
When you are stationary, you are not moving respectively to anything else; when you write a letter to someone you use stationery.

tortuous / torturous
Tortuous describes something like the long and winding road; whereas torturous describes something pertaining to torture.

unexceptionable / unexceptional
When something is unexceptionable, it is without exception or objections; when something is unexceptional, it is simply plain and ordinary.

See other: Choose Your English

Everything is Interesting

You just have to look at it the right way. Set yourself the challenge to see if you could turn up anything that was intrinsically and completely dull. You will fail. Allow yourself the luxury of looking closely and patiently at anything – a turnip, the history of Chelmsford, a letter from an insurance company – and new layers of detail come into focus.

“I don’t know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.” – Richard Feynman

See other: Philosophy of Interestingness

Enterprising Monasteries

‘This brings us back to Bury St Edmunds and its war between the monks and the townspeople. The town belonged to the abbey, which had benefited so much from various kings that it also owned the entire county of West Suffolk. The abbots built or expanded the town of Bury St Edmunds, and controlled its commercial life. Everyday business transaction involved a cut for the monks – whether a tradesman ran a barge on the river, a stall in the market, sold fish or supplied building materials. The abbey administered justice, and pocketed the fines it took. It ran the royal mint – being abbot of Bury St Edmunds was literally a licence to print money. The abbey even owned the horse droppings on the street – and of course the monks took their cut.
Whether it was collecting manure or grinding corn, every abbot guarded his monopoly jealously.’

- Jones. T., Ereira. A. 2004. Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives London, Great Britain: BBC Books (2005) p. 106

Amphiboly and Amphibology

Amphiboly or Amphibology is a form of syntactic ambiguity. That is to say, it describes a linguistic situation in which a sentence may be interpreted in more than one way due to an ambiguous sentence structure.

“John saw the man on the mountain with a telescope.”
“Flying planes can be dangerous.”

The duke yet lives that Henry shall depose.Henry VI (1.4.30), by William Shakespeare

Owing to the alteration of the natural order of words for metrical reasons, it is not uncommon to find amphiboly in poetic literature. This sentence could either be taken to mean that Henry will depose the duke, or that the duke will depose Henry.

“Thief gets nine months in violin case.”
“Prostitutes appeal to pope.”

I’m glad I’m a man, and so is Lola.Lola by Ray Davies

This sentence could mean “Lola and I are both glad I’m a man”, or “I’m glad Lola and I are both men”, or even “I’m glad I’m a man, and Lola is also glad to be a man”. Ray Davies deliberately wrote this ambiguity into the song Lola, referring to a cross-dresser.

“British left waffles on Falkland Islands.”
“Juvenile court will try shooting accused.”

Ibis redibis nunquam per bella peribis. — often attributed to the Oracle at Dodona

This Latin phrase could mean “you will go, you will return, never in war will you perish”; however, the other possibility is the exact opposite in meaning “you will go, you will never return, in (the) war you will perish”.

“Red tape holds up new bridge.”
“Sex education delayed, teachers request training.”

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A sequoia seed weighs less than 1/3000 of an ounce. The tree that develops from it may eventually weigh 65 billion times as much.

The Peruvian Uros people live on man-made islands on Lake Titicaca.

More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska.

Attempting to swim to England from France has been illegal for 17 years.

On December 23, 1986, The Miami Herald reported the following: “The Herald erroneously reported that original Dolphin Johnny Holmes had been an insurance salesman in Raleigh, NC, that he had won the New York lottery in 1982 and lost the money in a land swindle, that he had been charged with vehicular homicide but acquitted because his mother said the drove the car, and that he stated that the funniest thing he ever saw was Flipper spouting water on George Wilson. Each of these items was erroneous material published inadvertently. He was not an insurance salesman in Raleigh, did not win the lottery, neither he nor his mother was charged or involved in any way with a vehicular homicide, and he made no comment about Flipper or George Wilson. The Herald regrets the errors.”

See other: Quite Interesting Facts


Positional, Solid, Calculating, Calm

Professionals are strategists who place a high value on the exactness of their game and rarely let their emotions get out of hand. Professionals like to keep things under control – they don’t like to take undue risks, either by attacking the opponent or allowing themselves to be attacked. Instead, Professionals like to exploit long-term weaknesses. While they deal with long-term strategic and positional factors, they don’t rely on vague, intuitive judgements – for the Professional, chess is an exact, calculated science.

“Yes, I have played a blitz game once. It was on a train, in 1929.” – Mikhail Botvinnik

Mikhail Botvinnik, the sixth world champion, was a clear example of the Professional. Botvinnik was the first top player to develop in the Soviet Union, and was thus considered to be the patriarch of Soviet chess. Botvinnik was one of the first to take a professional approach to preparing for competitions, which included a big emphasis on physical exercise, opening preparation, and deep analysis of his own and his opponent’s games. Botvinnik took chess very seriously, but ironically considered himself not to be a full chess professional and worked as an engineer as well.

See other: Chess Personalities

Who Invented Pythagoras’ Theorem?

It is doubtful whether Pythagoras (c. 570-495BC) was really a mathematician as we understand the word. Schoolchildren still learn his so-called theorem about the square on the hypotenuse (a2+b2 =c2). But the Babylonians knew this equation centuries earlier, and there is no evidence that Pythagoras either discovered or proved it.

In fact, although genuine mathematical investigations were undertaken by later Pythagoreans, the evidence suggests that Pythagoras was a mystic who believed that numbers underlie everything. He worked out, for instance, that perfect musical intervals could be expressed by simple ratios.

See other: Which Greek Legends Were Really True?

Ontology [Noun.]

The branch of metaphysics that addresses the nature or essential characteristics of being and of things that exist; that is to say, it the study of being qua being.

It examines what can be asserted about anything that exists just because of its existence and not because of any special qualities it has.

On Nazi Sexism

“In the really good times of German life the German woman had no need to emancipate herself. She possessed exactly what nature had necessarily given her to administer and preserve; just as the man in his good times had no need to fear that he would be ousted from his position in relation to the woman. [...]

If the man’s world is said to be the State, his struggle, his readiness to devote his powers to the service of the community, then it may perhaps be said that the woman’s is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home. [...]

We do not consider it correct for the woman to interfere in the world of the man, in his main sphere. We consider it natural if these two worlds remain distinct.”

- Adolf Hitler (speech to the Women’s League on September 8, 1934)