Mark 11:12-14

12 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry:

13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

See other: Often Ignored Bible Verses

Priorities of Science

‘I’m very impressed with this seedless watermelon product that they have for us. They’ve done it. We now have seedless watermelon. Pretty amazing. What are they planting to grow the seedless watermelon, I wonder? The melons aren’t humping’, are they? They must be planting something. How does this work? And what kind of scientists do this type of work? I read this thing was 15 years in development. In the laboratories with gene splicing or, you know, whatever they do there… I mean, other scientists are working on AIDS, cancer, heart disease. These guys are going: “No, I’m going to devote myself to melon. I think that’s much more important. Sure thousands are dying needlessly but this… that’s gotta stop. Have you ever tried to pick a wet one off the floor, it’s almost impossible. I really think we should devote the money to these studies.”‘

Seinfeld, J. (1998). I’m Telling You For The Last Time. Broadhurst Theatre, New York: Universal Records.

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The Dogon people of Mali rub fried onions on their bodies as perfume.

The sweet, seedless navel orange was discovered in the mid-1800s on a single branch of a sour orange tree in a Brazilian monastery. The fruit even has a ‘belly-button’ – hence its name.

Britain is the only country in Europe that allows children to stop studying history at 13.

The Bulgarian word for beans is ‘bob’.

Tony Blair once told Des O’Connor that when he was 14, he stowed away on a plane from Newcastle to the Bahamas. In Newcastle airport’s 61-year history, there has never been a flight to the Bahamas.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

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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.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Taxonomic Hierarchy

In biology, every organism has several taxonomic classifications; these classifications are taken from the taxonomic hierarchy. This hierarchical tree displays how all Earth organisms are related to each other.

Biological ClassificationTo illustrate this hierarchical tree, imagine a daffodil, ladybug, goldfish, human, cat, fox, jackal and dog.

Out of the three Domains that make up Life on Earth, the Eukarya is the most diverse domain. (The other two Domains are that of the Archaea, a group of single-celled organisms, and that of the Bacteria, very small organisms whose cells do not have a nucleus.)

This Eukarya Domain includes all organisms with complex cells, or a single cell with a complex structure; in these cells the genetic material is organized into chromosomes in the cell nucleus. Obviously, this includes the life forms listed above.

The Eukarya Domain is made up of Kingdoms; the Animal Kingdom being the most well known. This Kingdom includes all the animals listed above, from ladybug to dog, but excludes a plant like the daffodil.

The Animal Kingdom is made up of Phyla; the Phylum Chordata is one of the most interesting Phyla because it includes all vertebrates. That is to say, all mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds – to name a few – are part of this Phylum. Note that the ladybug is not part of this Phylum.

The Chordata Phylum is made up of Classes; the Mammal Class being the most dominant on Earth. Humans, cats, foxes, jackals, dogs and all other animals who suckle their young are part of this Class. This excludes the goldfish.

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.”
– Mark Twain

The Class of Mammals is made up of Orders; if we take the Order of Carnivora, the carnivores, we would exclude human beings (who are the story telling member of the Order Primates, in the Family of the Hominidae, of the Genus Homo). This leaves us with the cat, fox, jackal and dog.

The Order of Carnivora is made up of Families; the fox, jackal and dog are part of the Family Canidae. That is, all dog-like animals. This excludes the cat.

The Family Canidae is made up of Genera. (The term comes from the Latin genus meaning “descent, family, type, gender”; from the Ancient Greek: γένος, “race, stock, kin”.) In our example, the fox is part of a different Genus than the jackal and the dog.

The Genus Canis is made up of Species; the most widely accepted definition of a species is ‘the largest group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring’. That brings us to the difference between a jackal (canis aureus) and a dog (canis lupus), who are part of the same genus, but are different species.

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
– Groucho Marx

Interesting Etymologies

A number of English words have come a long way to become part of the language. A brief look at the histories that accompany them reveal some interesting stories.

Avocado [Noun.]
A pear-shaped fruit with a rough leathery skin, smooth oily edible flesh, and a large stone.

The word for avocado comes from the Aztec word, ahuacatl, which means ‘testicle’. Aside from the similar shape, avocados also act as aphrodisiacs, foods that stimulate sex drive. Avocado therefore is the ‘testicle fruit’.

Jumbo [Adjective.]
Very large, unusually for it’s type.

In 1880, P.T. Barnum bought an elephant, called Jumbo, from the Royal Zoological Society in London. By age 7, this pachyderm consumed 200 pounds of hay, one barrel of potatoes, two bushels of oats, 15 loaves of bread, a slew of onions, and several pails of water every day. His caretaker at the zoo also gave him a gallon or two of whiskey every now and then. At full size, Jumbo stood at 11-and-a-half feet tall and weighed six-and-half tons. His name likely stems from two Swahili words: jambo, meaning ‘hello’, and the word jumbe, meaning ‘chief’.

Clue [Noun.]
A fact or idea that serves as a guide or aid in a task or problem.

According to Greek mythology, when Theseus entered the Labyrinth to kill the minotaur (a half-man, half-bull), he unraveled a ‘clew’ — a ball of string — behind him, so he could find his way back. The word clue didn’t even exist until the mid-1500s when people started to vary the spelling of ‘clew’.

Robot [Noun.]
A machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially one programmable by a computer.

The word robot comes from the Czech word robota, meaning ‘forced labour’ — which sounds strangely like slavery.

Sycophant [Noun.]
A person who acts obsequiously toward someone important in order to gain advantage.

Technically, sycophant means someone who denounces someone else as a fig-smuggler. Since the beginning of the sixth century, Athens outlawed transporting food, except olives, outside the city-state’s borders. People mostly broke the law by smuggling figs. Back then, Athenian law permitted blackmailing. These blackmailers, or sykophantes in Greek, wanted to earn some extra cash and threatened to tell the courts about others’ fig-smuggling habits.

Assassin [Noun.]
A person who murders an important person for political or religious reasons.

Members of a fanatical Muslim sect during the Crusades used to smoke hashish and then murder leaders on the opposing side. They started going by the name hashishiyyin, meaning hashish-users in Arabic. Through centuries of mispronunciation, English arrived at assassin.

Phony [Adjective.]
Not genuine, fraudulent.

Back in day, pirates used to sell fawney, basically British slang for fake gold rings. Anything can happen when you add a buccaneer’s accent.

Nimrod [Noun.]
An inept person.

Nimrod actually means a skilful hunter. The word comes from Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah, one of the most powerful biblical kings. During the golden age of American animation, Bugs Bunny called Elmer fud a nimrod in an episode of Looney Tunes. As Cracked puts it, that’s kind of like calling your friend “Einstein” after he makes a really dumb statement. Bugs’ sarcasm just stuck.

Whiskey [Noun.]
A spirit distilled from malted grain, especially barley or rye.

Whiskey is the shortened form of whiskeybae, which comes from the Old English usquebae, derived from two Gaelic words: uisce meaning ‘water’, and bethu meaning ‘life’. Thus, whiskey literally means water of life. How accurate.

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The Earth weighs about 6 million, billion, billion kilograms.

In Ancient Greece, blackberries were prescribed as an antidote for piles.

Bringing Up Baby in 1938 was the first film to use the word gay to mean homosexual. Cary Grant, in one scene, ended up having to wear a lady’s feathery robe. When another character asks about why he is wearing that, he responds an ad-libbed line “Because I just went gay”. At the time, mainstream audiences didn’t get the reference so the line was thought popularly to have meant something to the effect of “I just decided to be carefree.”

There is evidence to suggest that fleas mate for life.

Two of the English language’s foremost men of letters were not exactly extensive novelists: Oscar Wilde wrote one novel in his lifetime (The Picture of Dorian Gray), William Shakespeare did not write any.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

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Amathophobia is the fear of dust.

A map of Brittany and the dialects of the Breton language.

80% of all the almonds in the world are grown in California.

Ambisinistrous is the opposite of ambidextrous. It means ‘no good with either hand’.

The word ambulance comes from the French for ‘walking’.

In Breton, the language of the north-western French region of Brittany, the singulative marker is marked with the suffix -enn. So, while the noun gwez meaning ‘trees’ (as a collective), the word gwezenn means ‘a single tree’. Interestingly, – well, from a linguistic point of view – the latter can even be made into the regular plural gwezennoù meaning ‘several trees individually’.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts