Conversations: Genocide and Dogma

Consider the Holocaust: centuries before the mid 20th century, Christian Europeans had viewed the Jews as the worst species of heretics and attributed every societal ill to their continued presence among the faithful. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, while the hatred of Jews in Germany expressed itself in a predominately secular way, its roots were religious, and the explicitly religious demonization of the Jews of Europe continued. The anti-Semitism that built the Nazi death camps was a direct inheritance from medieval Christianity.

Examples aplenty, the Vatican itself perpetuated the blood libel in its newspapers as late as 1914. And both Catholic and Protestant churches have a shameful record of complicity with the Nazi genocide.

Hang on, what is this so-called blood libel? Continue reading

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There are more living organisms in a teaspoonful of soil than there are people on the Earth.

One fourth of all the milk produced in Ireland is used for producing Baileys.

During the entire Second World War, as far as we know, there were only two casualties on Greenland – a Danish and German soldier.

During conversations most laughter happens after banal comments, not funny ones. Only about 10-20% of comments before laughs are even remotely funny.

The ancient Romans sold pee collected from public urinals; those who traded in urine had to pay a tax.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Do ‘it’ for Denmark

Kan sex redde Danmarks fremtid? That is, can sex save Denmark’s future?

According to government statistics, Denmark posted a birth rate of 10 per 1,000 residents in 2013 — its lowest in decades. The nation’s birthrate was  9.9 in 1983.

Denmark’s perennially low birth rate places it with Germany (8.33), Japan (8.39) and Singapore (7.72). And the downward trend has left people worried in Denmark. Most couples say they want two or three kids, according to the Copenhagen Post, but one in five couples wind up childless.

To counter this trend, a bold and hilarious campaign has emerged. For the salvation of the country, a Danish travel company called Spies has organized the movement Do it for Denmark!; it wants Danes to act and act now — without precautions.

“This is Denmark. We are Danes. We keep our distance. We do not pick a seat close to strangers if other seats are available. We do not talk to strangers in the trains.”
― Steen Langstrup, Metro

Studies show that Danes have 46 percent more sex on holiday, and because more sex increases the chances for more children, the travel company Spies has called for a romantic break to save the future of Denmark.

To get the campaign of the ground, Spies will give prizes to couples who get pregnant while on vacations purchased through them.

Afterwards, upon successful sex, the couple is to shoot off a positive pregnancy test and medical records to the company. Then they may win three years worth of free diapers.

Börn er vis sorg, men uvis gläede.
― Children are definitive sorrow, but undefinitive joy.

And just in case Danes are confused by this whole pregnancy thing, the company has offered a helpful how-to on its website:

  • Men, avoid tight pants. Even if you think they look good on you.
  • Remember to exercise and maintain a healthy body weight.
  • Avoid stress. Take a massage or try some yoga.
  • Use Gravity. Lay down after sex for at least 15 minutes.
  • Don’t forget to have sex – without using protection.

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Salvador Dali did nine months of military service and was assigned the role of toilet cleaner. He pretended to have nervous fits to avoid night duty.

27,000 trees are felled each day for toilet paper.

There are 443 named islands in Denmark, only 76 of which are inhabited.

The highest mountain in Turkey is Mount Ararat, which is where Noah’s Ark is supposed to have landed. It was first climbed in October 1829, by a professor called Frederick Parrot.

In 380 CE the church issued a law specifically forbidding anyone to read the Bible whilst naked. People had been trying to emulate the innocence of Adam and Eve by taking their clothes off before services.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

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New Zealand is home to more than 100 varieties of pubic lice.

People from Denmark use less toilet paper than those from any other western nation.

Paul Keres is the only chess player to have defeated nine undisputed world champions: Jose Raul Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Max Euwe, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian, Boris Spassky and Bobby Fischer. Keres also drew two games against Anatoly Karpov.

Walt Whitman ate four raw eggs for breakfast every day for the last 20 years of his life.

One of the criticisms of communism was the allegation that communists practice and propagandise the ‘community of women’. In The Communist Manifesto (1848), Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels suggest that this allegation is an example of hypocrisy and psychological projection by “bourgeois” critics of communism, who “not content with having wives and daughters of their proletarians at their disposal, not to speak of common prostitutes, take the greatest pleasure in seducing each other’s wives.”

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Religiosity and Poverty

In 2006, 2007, and 2008, the Gallup institute asked representative samples in 143 countries and territories whether religion was an important part of their daily lives. Across all populations, the median proportion of residents who said religion is important in their daily lives is 82%. Americans fall well below this midpoint, at 65%.

“Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.” ― Christopher Hitchens, The Portable Atheist

Out of the results, one interesting conclusion can be reached, namely: a population’s religiosity level is strongly related to its average standard of living. In fact, Gallup’s World Poll indicates that 8 of the 11 countries in which almost all residents (at least 98%) say religion is important in their daily lives are poorer nations in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. As a general rule, the poorer and underdeveloped a nation, the more religious its inhabitants are likely to be.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 10 least religious countries studied include several with the world’s highest living standards, including Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Hong Kong, and Japan.

Social scientists have noted that one thing that makes Americans distinctive is our high level of religiosity relative to other rich-world populations. Among 27 countries commonly seen as part of the developed world, the median proportion of those who say religion is important in their daily lives is just 38%. From this perspective, the fact that two-thirds of Americans respond with 65% makes them look extremely devout in relation to their GDP.

What’s more, as Gallup’s Frank Newport recently pointed out, there is wide regional variation in religiosity across the 50 American states. The proportion of those who say religion is important in their daily lives is highest in Mississippi, at 85% – a figure that is slightly higher than the worldwide median (among all countries, rich and poor). Two others, Alabama (82%) and South Carolina (80%) are on par with the worldwide median.

“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Lining up these percentages with those on our worldwide list allows us to match residents of the most religious states to the global populations with which they are similar in terms of religiosity. The results produce some interesting comparisons: Alabamians, for example, are about as likely as Iranians to say religion is an important part or their lives. And ironically, Georgians in the United States are about as religious as the Georgians of the Caucasus.

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Ancient Greek athletes trained hard. The word ‘agony’ comes from the Greek agonia, meaning ‘contest’.

Å, Moskenes; Norway

Å, in the principality of Moskenes, Norway

The town with the world’s shortest place name is called Å. There are two of them, located in Denmark and Norway.

Akathisia is the inability to sit still, an involuntary jiggling of the leg, or a terror of sitting.

In Inuktitut, the word tunngahugittik means ‘welcome to the two of you’; the polite reply to this is the response tunngahukpuguk, which literally means ‘thank you, we feel welcome’.

The average Dutchman has sex for the first time when 16,6 years old, has seven sexual partners in a lifetime, has sexual intercourse lasting for twenty minutes (two minutes above world-average), and in total, has sex 94 times a year (far below world-average). Nevertheless, he or she marks life with a generous 7,9 out of 10.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Valentine’s Day Traditions

Japan: In this part of the World, it’s all about spoiling your man on Valentine’s day and not the other way around like in most Western cultures. The women are in the forefront presenting the men in their lives gifts (mostly chocolates), to express either their love, courtesy or social obligation.

This image was selected as a picture of the we...

Chocolate is a popular Valentine’s Day gift

The different types of chocolates signified different relationships: a woman may gift giri-choko that literally translates to ‘obligation chocolate’, to men without any romantic interest (like bosses, colleagues, class-mates, brothers, fathers and close male friends). Chō-giri choko is a step down from that and is referred to as ‘ultra-obligatory’ chocolate. It is a cheaper chocolate reserved for people the woman isn’t even particularly fond of, but feels obligated to gift something to so they don’t feel left out, say an unpopular co-worker, for example. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s honmei-choko meaning ‘favourite or true feeling chocolate’, that is specially gifted to boyfriends, lovers or husbands.

South Korea: Women in South Korea spoil their men with chocolates on this day. That said, South Koreans are a romantic bunch and have practically marked the 14th of every month to signify some sort of ‘Love’ related day: January 14 is Candle Day; February 14 is Valentine’s Day; March 14 is White Day; April 14 is Black Day; May 14 is Rose Day; June 14 is Kiss Day; July 14 is Silver Day; August 14 is Green Day; September 14 is Music Day; October 14 is Wine Day; November 14 is Movie Day; December 14 is Hug Day.

Denmark and Norway: Gaekkebrev are funny little poems or rhyming love notes that men send to women anonymously on Valentine’s Day, giving them only a clue as to the number of letters in the senders name, represented by a dot for each letter. The recipient must then guess who sent her the card. If she guesses correctly she wins an Easter Egg on Easter later that year and if she’s stumped as to who her secret admirer was, she owes him an egg instead which is collected on Easter.

Slovenia: The people of Slovenia have a belief that the birds of the fields propose to their loved ones and get married on this day, and to witness this one must walk barefoot through the field on sometimes still frozen ground.

France: Their most popular tradition was called une loterie d’amour that translates to “drawing for love”. This practice involved single men and women of all ages to enter houses that faced opposite each other and take turns calling out to one another until they were paired off. If the men didn’t like their match, they would simply leave the woman for another man to call. As part of the tradition, the women that didn’t get matched up, got together for a big ceremonial bonfire in which they tossed pictures and objects of the men who rejected them, whilst swearing and hurling curses at the opposite sex. The French government officially banned the practice because of how rowdy and uncontrollable the whole event usually got.