17/xi mmxvi


A “Bug” is an insect that has sucking mouth parts.

The oldest active synagogue in Europe is in Prague. It is called the Old New Synagogue.

Humans and elephants are the only animals with chins.

The Lord Ponsonby of Shulbede and Baron Soulsby of Swaffham Prior are actual titles in the English Peerage.

Australia was discovered by the Chinese. The Dutch were the first Europeans to discover it. William Dampier was the first Englishman to discover it.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

How the Greeks Knew the Earth was a Sphere


‘As long ago as 340 BC the Greek philosopher Aristotle, in his book On the Heavens,
was able to put forward two good arguments for believing that the earth was a round sphere rather than a Hat plate. First, he realized that eclipses of the moon were caused by the earth coming between the sun and the moon. The earth’s shadow on the moon was always round, which would be true only if the earth was spherical. If the earth had been a flat disk, the shadow would have been elongated and elliptical, unless the eclipse always occurred at a time when the sun was directly under the center of the disk. Second, the Greeks knew from their travels that the North Star appeared lower in the sky when viewed in the south than it did in more northerly regions. (Since the North Star lies over the North Pole, it appears to be directly above an observer at the North Pole, but to someone looking from the equator, it appears to lie just at the horizon. From the difference in the apparent position of the North Star in Egypt and Greece, Aristotle even quoted an estimate that the distance around the earth was 400,000 stadia. It is not known exactly what length a stadium was, but it may have been about 200 yards, which would make Aristotle’s estimate about twice the currently accepted figure. The Greeks even had a third argument that the earth must be round, for why else does one first see the sails of a ship coming over the horizon, and only later see the hull?’

– Hawking. S. (1998) A Brief History of Time New York, United States: Bantam Books p. 2

Kansas Classrooms


I can’t teach you about safe sex because it might encourage you to become promiscuous.

I can’t tell you what airbags do. That information will make you think it’s okay to start crashing into things.

I’m sorry class. We can no longer study Mexico. As you’d all run away to Tijuana if I told you what was there.

If I teach you girls how to rescue a burnt casserole, how can I trust you to follow the teachings of Héloise?

I’m afraid I can’t tell you how Hannibal crossed the Alps. If I did, you crazy kids are likely to conquer the prom with elephants. Oops.

Trigonometry will no longer be taught. You could use that knowledge to calculate the trajectory of eggs thrown at my Geo Metro.

We won’t be using safety glasses this year in shop class. I believe anyone who gets a word chip in their eye have it coming.

Science has been cancelled because your parents prefer to believe in magic.

Big Fat Whale, Brian McFadden 2006

Lesbianism in Victorian England


In Victorian England, terms such as lesbian and sapphic came into use for female relationships. For some time, the Victorians never seemed to consider criminalising female homosexuality.

Apocryphally, these were also due to be criminalised in the 1885 legislation know as the Labouchere Amendment, until Queen Victoria declared them impossible, whereupon the clause was omitted – a joke that serves to underline a common, and commonly welcomed, ignorance, at a time when lurid, fictionalised lesbianism was often figured as an especially repulsive and seductive French vice.

“The single best thing about coming out of the closet is that nobody can insult you by telling you what you’ve just told them.” – Rachel Maddow

One of the first people to break the amendment was Oscar Wilde. The judge sentenced him to two years hard labour, although he wished he could punish him even more saying that, “this is the worst case I have ever tried.” A week earlier, the same judge tried a case of child murder.

The Human Race


The thinking ape
200,000 years ago

Our species, Homo sapiens, is ridiculously young. We have only existed for a fifth of a million years. In that time we have expanded from our African birthplace to reach every continent, and even outer space. Our activities have precipitated the sixth mass extinction and unleashed the fastest episode of climate change in Earth’s history. Yet we are also the only species that has ever managed to piece together the history of Earth.

See other: History of Life

Cannabis Myth?


“George Washington smoked cannabis.”


Ruling:
False. As far as we know, he farmed hemp for economical purposes.

Analysis:
Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp at their farms. In Virginia, hemp was promoted at the time as an alternative cash crop to tobacco, since it did not deplete the soil as much. Hemp was also useful for rope, paper, and clothing. Now, even though there was no social stigma attached to smoking pot at the time, there is no evidence to suggest Washington also smoked the plant. Having said that, Thomas Jefferson did at some point trade hemp seeds with another farmer in Missouri, which by many modern standards would qualify him as a dealer.

See other: Mythconceptions?

Primaries and Caucuses


In the United States presidential elections, a primary is a statewide voting process in which voters cast secret ballots for their preferred candidates; a caucus is a system of local gatherings where voters decide which candidate to support. Both systems culminate in the selection of delegates who will vote on behalf of the electorate at a party’s national convention.

On closer inspection, the system is incredibly convoluted and even undemocratic. Consider the following news report:

“We’re putting up right now a graphic Bernie Sanders wins 56 to 44 percent in Wyoming the delegates rewarded Hillary Clinton 11 Bernie Sanders 7. Why does the Democratic Party even have voting booths? This system is so rigged!” – MSNBC

And it is not just the Democrats, when Donald Trump won Louisiana beating Ted Cruz by more than 3 percent he was upset to discover Ted Cruz could potentially get as many as 10 more delegates or as he put it:

“I end up winning in Louisiana, and then when everything is done I find out I get less delegates and this guy that got his ass kicked, OK. Give me a break!” – Donald Trump

There is no clearer piece of evidence that this system is broken than when Donald Trump is actually making sense. Confronted with results like these, the process appears counter-intuitive. Continue reading

20/x mmxvi


In 2002, Norwegian footballer Kenneth Kristensen signed for third-division team Floey and was paid his weight in shrimps.

The modern Spanish Navy is still called the Armada.

There are more Catholics in Scotland than in Northern Ireland.

A 2005 United States medical research project showed that 20% of interviewees admitted to taking Derbisol, a drug that does not exist.

The director and producer of the 1971 film Fiddler on the Roof was called Norman Jewison.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts