Any of various wading birds of the family Charadriidae, small to medium-sized birds with compact bodies, short, thick necks and long, usually pointed, wings, Their bill is usually straight and short, their toes are short, hind toe could be reduced or absent, depending on species.
‘Mark the difference, moreover,
Between mover, plover, Dover.’
– Gerard Nolst Trenité, The Chaos
Birds evolved from feathered dinosaurs – modern birds are essentially Velociraptors with beaks instead of snouts and wings instead of arms. The most famous early bird, Archaeopteryx, lived 150 million years ago. But in recent years slightly older fossils, such as Xiaotingia and Aurornis, have been found in China.
The peak weight of Khalid bin Mohsen Shaari was 610 kg. In August 2013, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia ordered him to be hospitalized and lose weight.
The brain cannot feel pain, even if you stick a knife in it.
The Parsi people of India leave their dead to be eaten by vultures.
Crocodile dung, blacksmith water, Weasel’s testicles, mercury, animal intestines, cola and other carbonated drinks, an acacia and honey tampon, an opium or lemon diaphragm and brewed tea with Beaver testicles have all been used as contraceptives.
In the summer of 2013, male train drivers in Sweden circumvented a ban on shorts by wearing skirts to work in hot weather. Because of Swedish anti-sexist laws, men and women are allowed to wear the same clothes to work.
An American could become President of the United States by winning the majority of the votes in just 11 U.S. States.
The tomato has been brought back from the verge of extinction at least three times since it was first domesticated.
The word acalculia describes the inability to do sums.
Hummingbirds, bees and ants spend 80% of their day doing absolutely nothing.
It is embarrassing to read how little we know about the greatest literary genius that ever drew breath – William Shakespeare, or the Swan of Avon (as P.G. Wodehouse put it).
Shakespeare died in the century of Galileo Galilei, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal and Isaac Newton; and yet, we do not know when he was born, we know little about his private affairs, his physical appearance or personal convictions – to name a few.
It is therefore worthwhile to consider those precious nuggets of information we do know about Shakespeare’s life and his legacy:
Quotations: According to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, Shakespeare wrote close to a tenth of the most quoted lines ever written or spoken in English.
Translations: The complete works of Shakespeare have been translated into 80 different languages, the most obscure by far must be the constructed language of Klingon out of Star Trek. In fact, Hamlet and Much Ado About Nothing have both been translated by the Klingon Language Institute as part of the Klingon Shakespeare Restoration Project.
King James Bible: In the King James Bible, the 46th word of Psalm 46 is ‘shake’ and the 46th word from the end of the same Psalm is ‘spear’. It is believed that this was a hidden birthday message to the Bard, as the King James Bible was published in 1611 – the year of Shakespeare’s 46th birthday.
Satellites of Uranus: The moons of Uranus were originally named in 1852 after magical spirits of English literature. However, the International Astronomy Union subsequently developed the convention to name all further moons of Uranus (of which there are 27) after characters in Shakespeare’s plays or Alexander Pope’s The Rape Of The Lock.
Birthday: Nobody knows Shakespeare’s actual birthday. It is celebrated on April 23rd – three days before his baptism which was recorded on April 26th, 1564. Tediously, as Shakespeare was born under the old Julian calendar, April 23rd during Shakespeare’s life would actually be May 3rd according to today’s Gregorian calendar.
Cardenio: We know that at least one play called Cardenio has been completely lost. It was credited to Shakespeare and performed in his lifetime, but – as far as we know – no copy of the text survives today.
His Name: There are more than 80 recorded variations of the spelling of Shakespeare’s name. In the few original signatures that have survived, Shakespeare spelled his name “Willm Shaksp,” “William Shakespe,” “Wm Shakspe,” “William Shakspere,” ”Willm Shakspere,” and “William Shakspeare”. Funnily enough, there is no record of him ever having spelled his name “William Shakespeare”.
Lexicon: Shakespeare has been credited by the Oxford English Dictionary with introducing almost 3,000 words to the English language. Estimations of his vocabulary range from 17,000 to 29,000 words – at least double the number of words used by the average contemporary English speaker.
Starlings: In 1890, Eugene Schiffelin embarked on a project to import each species of bird mentioned in Shakespeare’s works that was not indigenous to the United States. It is therefore safe to say that Schiffelin is responsible for introducing the Starling to the USA.
Verbosity: According to professor Louis Marder, “Shakespeare was so facile in employing words that he was able to use over 7,000 of them – more than occur in the whole King James Version of the Bible – only once and never again.”