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Babelavante [Noun.] One who makes feeble jokes.

Cows have about 25,000 taste buds – two and a half times as many as people – but all they eat is grass.

If anything, Greenland is white.

Passengers in Tokyo train stations generate energy every time they take a step. Special flooring tiles capture the vibrations generated by footfalls, which can be stored as energy. Enough energy is captured during the day to light up electronic signboards.

According to Gallup, the religiosity of the US state of Alabama is as high as that of Iran. Ironically, the religiosity of the US state of Georgia, is as high as that of the sovereign nation of Georgia located in the Caucasus.

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The smell of freshly baked bread releases oxytocin in the brain.

In Ancient Greece, the priestess at Delphi was called the Delphic Bee; also, the Quran has a chapter titled The Bee.

Spekglad, literally ‘bacon slippery’, is Dutch for most slippery.

Poland is one of the few countries in the world, where courteous hand-kissing is still a relatively common practice.

Erotic films are pink in Japan, blue in the United States, green in Spain, and yellow in China. In fact, the Chinese produced a porn film called The Happy Yellow Handkerchief.

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Exonyms are names used in a particular language to refer to a foreign nation or country; they can be completely different from the name that country uses (in its particular language) to qualify itself. Quite often, they can be of interest from a historical point of view because they can be surprisingly conservative. The exonym is sometimes preserved for hundreds of years after the political or ethnic entity it originally referred to ceased to be.

One of the best-known cases is Germany. Many nations share their linguistic origin with the German term Deutschland, even though they have sometimes assumed a quite different form i.e. Duitsland, Tedesco or Tyskland – from the Proto-Germanic Þeudiskaz. The Slavic peoples call the Germans Niemcy or similar which means ‘a mute’, someone who does not speak Slavic. The French and Spanish, among others, employ the name of the Alamanni tribe. The English, Italians and Russians, to name a few, use a derivative of the Latin Germania or Greek Γερμανία. And the Finns and Baltic states either refer to the name of the Saxon tribe or employ a word of unknown origin, like the Latvian Vacija or the Lithuanian Vokietija.

Consider these other cases:

  • The Latvians call Russia Krievija, referring to an ancient Slavic tribal union, the Krivichi;
  • The Turks call Greece Yunanistan and the Greeks Yunan, another very old exonym which probably has for origin the word ‘Ionia’, that is the Greek region on the coast of Asia Minor;
  • In a kind of an opposite logic, Russia was called Muscovy by the Poles, and then by other Europeans as a way to deny the claim of the Moscow-based government on the totality of Russian lands;
  • The Japanese used to call China Tang even hundreds of years after the end of that dynasty. In the late 19th- and early 20th century they resorted to an even older and more obscure word Shina, which had the advantage of being similar to the equivalent Western terms.

Also, there is something particularly curious about Roman exonyms; it seems the Romans gave completely random names to any people they encountered. A people that called itself Rasenna received the name Tuscans or Etruscans. The inhabitants of Carthage became Punics, and the Hellenes or Achaeans were Greeks. Celts became Galli or the Gauls.

“Patriotism is, fundamentally, a conviction that a particular country is the best in the world because you were born in it.”
– George Bernard Shaw

Snowball Fights

In January 1863, 9,000 men in the US Confederate Army were reprimanded for an epic snowball fight complete with drums and battle flags. The battle started between the First and Fourth Texans but spread to troops from Arkansas and Georgia. The high command, irritated by the number of minor injuries suffered, issued an order ‘prohibiting general snowballing’.

According to Boston code (16.12.15) it is illegal to throw snowballs, use a bow and arrow or use a catapult.

In 2006 snowball fights were reported as being banned in North Wales after a boy was arrested for pelting a younger child with snowballs (refrozen to make them harder) and breaking three of his teeth. The government health and safety website counts the banning of snowballs as a persistent myth.

Handschuhschneeballwerfer is German slang for ‘coward’. It means someone who wears gloves to throw snowballs.

Francois de Bourbon, Comte d’Enghien (1519-46) was a successful General and a friend of Francis I, King of France. Whilst staying at the Chateau de Roch-Guyon in the winter of 1546, d’Enghien got into a snowball fight which got rather out of hand, forcing him to stop for a rest under a window. Someone threw a linen-chest out of the window, and it landed on his head. He died a few days later, on February 26, aged 26.

650 million years ago, the earth was covered with ice, known as ‘snowball earth’ or ‘slushball earth’.

Yukigassen is a Japanese snowball fighting-competition. It is similar to ‘capture the flag’; players are eliminated when hit with snowballs. Players wear hockey helmets with face shields, and are given a set number of snowballs (90) that are made in advance using a snowball maker.

“The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.” – Doug Larson

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Peter the Cruel of Aragon and Peter the Cruel of Castile were at war with each other for ten years 1356-66.

Mushrooms have more in common with animals than with plants.

Ball’s Pyramid, Australia, is the tallest volcanic stack in the world.

The Japanese believe plums and miso soup can cure hangovers.

The Latin tag nolens volens ‘unwilling, willing’ – that is, ‘whether unwillingly or willingly’ – is sometimes rendered volens nolens, aut nolens aut volens or nolentis volentis. It is similar to willy-nilly, though that word is derived from Old English will-he nil-he (i.e. [whether] he will or [whether] he will not).

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Women In Japan

‘Japanese history provides striking examples of how changes in the status of women can be linked with other broad socioeconomic trends. A woman-centered marriage pattern in ancient times contributed to considerable religious and political influence for women, but from the 6th century onward the growing acceptance of Confucian and Buddhist precepts that maintained women’s inferiority reflected and reinforced a shift toward patriarchal family structure. Only since the Meiji period (1868-1912), and especially since World War II, have increasing educational and employment opportunities, as well as improvements in legal status, allowed women intellectual and financial autonomy once again.’

The Japan Book (2002) Tokyo, Japan: Kodansha International Ltd. p. 93

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Bodhidharma, the founder of Zen Buddhism found enlightenment – as it is known in Buddhism – by sitting facing a wall for nine years.

Only 2% of our genes are specifically human.

If people stay in Japan for a long time, they tend to get used to the native way of thinking. For instance, they start to find it normal that books are always wrapped in plastic covers; they start nodding on the phone saying “te, te” when listening to someone; they start to use shoulder compressors for stiffness; and, they start to think that fried gyoza is normal food. This process of foreigners turning native is so real, the Japanese actually have a word for it: tatami. Curiously, tatami also means a type of rice straw mat which is often used as a flooring material in traditional Japanese-style rooms.

The Swiss have gone over five centuries without a war.

American porn actress Lisa Sparks (also spelled Sparxxx) holds the world record for the largest gangbang (a sexual act in which one person has sexual intercourse with a large number of people from the opposite sex) – on October 16, 2004 she had sex with 919 men in Warsaw, Poland.

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Most schools in Japan don’t have a janitor as students do the cleaning.

Fish are primarily white meat due to the fact that they don’t ever need their muscles to support themselves and thus need much less myoglobin or sometimes none at all in a few cases; they float, so their muscle usage is much less than say a 1000 pound cow who walks around a lot and must deal with gravity.  Typically, the only red meat you’ll find on a fish is around their fins and tail, which are used almost constantly.

For the first two centuries of its existence, Christianity included people who believed in one god, in two, in 12, in 30, and in 144.

George W. Bush and Saddam Hussein had their shoes hand-made by the same Italian cobbler.

Homosexuality in North Korea is not a problem. Due to tradition in Korean culture, it is not customary for individuals of any sexual orientation to engage in public displays of affection. Nevertheless, as a country that has embraced science and rationalism, North Korea recognizes that many individuals are born with homosexuality as a genetic trait and treats them with due respect.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts