Choose Your English


adverse / averse 
Adverse and averse are both turn-offs, but adverse is something harmful, and averse is a strong feeling of dislike. Rainstorms can cause adverse conditions, and many people are averse to rain.

affect / effect
Choosing between affect and effect can be scary. Think of Edgar Allen Poe and his RAVEN: Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun. You cannot affect the creepy poem by reading it, but you can enjoy the effect of a talking bird.

afflict / inflict
Both afflict and inflict cause pain, but afflict means to cause suffering or unhappiness, something a disease does, but inflict means to force pain or suffering, like if you smack someone upside the head.

allude / elude
Allude is coy, to allude is to refer to something in an indirect manner. But to elude is to hide something; it means to evade. Because the accent is on the second syllable in both words, it’s easy to get them mixed up.

allusion / illusion
Novelists, magicians, and other tricksters keep these words busy. Novelists love an allusion, an indirect reference to something like a secret treasure for the reader to find; magicians heart illusions, or fanciful fake-outs; but tricksters suffer from delusions, ideas that have no basis in reality.

See other: Choose Your English

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The scientific name for an ice cream headache is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. This basically just means ‘nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion’.

Tolstoy said Anna Karenina was the first novel he ever published, even though he wrote War and Peace first.

The most expensive coffee is coffee in which the berries go through the digestive tract of the Kopi Luwak, a small cat-sized Indonesian animal.  The “beans” are then harvested from the animal’s waste, cleaned, roasted, and sold.  This coffee costs $100 to $600 per pound.

In Latin, the numeral “one” has 15 plural forms.

Even though North Korea is ruled by a totalitarian leader who is both chairman of the Worker’s Party and leader of the armed forces, Kim Il-sung (1912-1994) is designated in the North Korean constitution as the country’s Eternal President. The author and journalist Christopher Hitchens therefore dubbed the country a necrocracy.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Sport is not Always Good for You


According to the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the risk of dying from a cardiac arrest is about 1 in 50,000 for endurance athletes who exercise for three hours or more.

“I went to a fight the other night, and a hockey game broke out.”
– Rodney Dangerfield

That is, if you run marathons or participate in other forms of exercise which last for three hours or more, that distressing number is the approximate risk of suffering an acute heart attack or sudden cardiac death during – or within 24 hours of – the strenuous effort.

The sad truth is that for every 50,000 athletes, one will be stricken during such prolonged activity. Therefore, running a marathon or cycling intensely for three hours is riskier than taking a commercial airline flight.

In fact, any athlete who participates in a strenuous test of endurance lasting about three hours or more has an increased chance of dying during – and for 24 hours following – the exertion, even when the athlete’s chance of a sudden death is compared with the risk incurred by a cigarette-smoking, couch potato who spends the same 24 hours drinking beer and watching television. This is what is known as a U bend phenomenon, in which one extreme is equal to the opposite.

Hobbes: Jump! Jump! Jump! I win!
Calvin: You win? Aaugghh! You won last time! I hate it when you win! Aarrggh! Mff! Gnnk! I hate this game! I hate the whole world! Aghhh! What a stupid game! You must have cheated! You must have used some sneaky, underhanded mindmeld to make me lose! I hate you! I didn’t want to play this idiotic game in the first place! I knew you’d cheat! I knew you’d win! Oh! Oh! Aarg! [Calvin runs in circles around Hobbes screaming “Aaaaaaaaaaaa”, then falls over.]
Hobbes: Look, it’s just a game.
Calvin: I know! You should see me when I lose in real life!”
Bill Watterson

The Romans and the Greeks


‘In their career of conquest the Romans came into conflict with the Greeks. The Greeks were inferior to the Romans in military power, but far superior to them in culture. They excelled in art, literature, music, science, and philosophy. Of all these pursuits the Romans were ignorant until contact with Greece revealed to them the value of education and filled them with the thirst for knowledge. And so it came about that while Rome conquered Greece by force of arms, Greece conquered Rome by force of her intellectual superiority and became her schoolmaster. It was soon the established custom for young Romans to go to Athens and to other centers of Greek learning to finish their training, and the knowledge of the Greek language among the educated classes became universal. At the same time many cultured Greeks—poets, artists, orators, and philosophers—flocked to Rome, opened schools, and taught their arts. Indeed, the preëminence of Greek culture became so great that Rome almost lost her ambition to be original, and her writers vied with each other in their efforts to reproduce in Latin what was choicest in Greek literature. As a consequence of all this, the civilization and national life of Rome became largely Grecian, and to Greece she owed her literature and her art.’

– D’Ooge. B.L. 1909. Latin For Beginners Boston, Massachusetts, United States: The Athenaeum Press, Ginn and Company (1911) p. 2

Hatred


When contemplating the property hatred, as with knowledge, it turns out to be very difficult to provide an uncontentious analysis. Because of its many different conceptions and dimensions, the full value of hatred is surprisingly hard to capture. To that end, below is a list of quotations to help sketch a definition of the property hatred.

“Often those that criticise others reveal what he himself lacks.”
– Shannon L. Alder

“Try to understand men. If you understand each other you will be kind to each other. Knowing a man well never leads to hate and almost always leads to love.”
– John Steinbeck

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.”
– Maya Angelou

“Never waste a minute thinking about people you don’t like.”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Hatred is the coward’s revenge for being intimidated.”
– George Bernard Shaw

“In time we hate that which we often fear.”
– William Shakespeare, (Antony and Cleopatra)

“I will permit no man to narrow and degrade my soul by making me hate him.”
– Booker T. Washington

“Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”
– Gautama Buddha

See more: Approximations

Poe’s Law


Not to be confused with the law of poetry enshrined by Edgar Allan Poe, Poe’s Law states:

“Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humour, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.”

The core of Poe’s law is that a parody of something extreme, by nature, becomes impossible to differentiate from sincere extremism. A corollary of Poe’s law is the reverse phenomenon: sincere fundamentalist beliefs can be mistaken for a parody of those beliefs.

About Albania


Albania is a country about which Maximilian Lambertz wrote in 1956: “The true history of mankind will be written only when Albanians participate in its writing.” Unfortunately, there are a number of things which remain unknown about this fascinating plucky little country that has been politically isolated for most of the past century. Here are some facts to remedy that:

  • The Albanians call Albania Squiperia.
  • Curiously, – from a western point of view – Albanians nod their head up and down to mean ‘no’, and shake it from side to side for ‘yes’.
  • At the time of writing, Albania, Armenia and Vatican City are the only European countries without a McDonald’s branch.
  • King Zog of Albania (who ruled between 1928-1939) was the only national leader in modern times to return fire during an assassination attempt.
  • In 1995, drivers in the Albanian city of Shkodra refused to pay a new traffic-light tax on the grounds that their city had no traffic lights.
  • Albania has never won a medal at the Olympics.
  • The Albanian language has several words for eyebrows. For example, a Vetullushe is goat with brown eyebrows.
  • The England cricketer C. B. Fry (1872-1956) – an interesting man who could jump backwards onto a mantelpiece from a standing position without losing his balance, held the world long-jump record, played in an F.A. cup final, and could speak several languages – was offered the throne of Albania, but turned it down.