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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.

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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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The charango, a unique musical instrument found only in Bolivia, is made from the shell of an armadillo.

Every year about 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced.

For every American killed by terrorism in or outside the U.S., more than 1,000 died from firearms inside the U.S. during the recent decade.

One in four Dutch smokers does not reach their pension-age.

The 1919 Treaty of Versailles explicitly forbade Germans form calling their sparkling wine ‘champagne’, so they called it by another, informal name: ‘sekt’ (from the Latin siccus, ‘dry’).

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Gymnologize [Verb.] To debate whilst naked.

The sound of a wave breaking is actually that of hundreds of millions of air bubbles bursting at the shoreline.

Martin Luther believed the mentally challenged were the work of the devil.

Archaeological evidence suggest that the earliest known purposefully fermented drink, specifically beer, was made all the way back in the late Stone Age around 10,000 BCE, making it one of the earliest known prepared food substance along with bread, which also dates back to around 10,000 BCE. The earliest references to wine being made are found in Egypt around 4000 BCE.

As a Dutchman, you are almost 10 times more likely to commit suicide than to be murdered.

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In heraldry, a lion with a tail between its legs is called a coward.

In the United States, there are 5 times more fast food restaurants than supermarkets.

The British XXX Corps fought in the Battle of Arnhem; its first two commanders were Lieutenant-Generals Vyvyan Vavasour Pope and Charles Willoughby Moke Norrie.

According to Muslim legend, there are only 10 animals in Heaven including Noah’s dove, Mohammed’s horse and the whale that swallowed Jonah.

A honeybee queen is created at the decision of the worker bees; she has sex with several male partners a day and stores their sperm in a spermatheca (from the Ancient Greek σπέρμα, “seed, semen”; and θήκη, “case, box, receptacle”). Once mated, queens may lay up to 2,000 eggs per day.

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Squirrels are from the family Sciuridae meaning ‘he who sits in the shadow of his tail’.

At the start of the Cuban revolution, Fidel Castro boarded a ship called the ‘grandma’.

Jiang Qing, the wife of Chairman Mao had a pet monkey who was her constant companion. She dressed it in silk, fed it fine foods and trained it to attack people as they walked through her garden.

Mafia means ‘beautiful’ in Sicilian dialect.

Currently, the Dutch spend about 5% of their national budget on defence every year. Nevertheless, the Dutch have never successfully defended their land territory in their nation’s existence.

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The medieval French poet Eustache Deschamps (1346–1406) wrote some 82,000 verses in his life.

colin dexter 1

Colin Dexter, author of Inspector Morse

Because of increasing satire of the church, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Arundel (1353–1414) forbade discussing religion in English.

The biblical book of Esther contains neither the word God, Lord, Jesus, nor Jehovah.

Pope John Paul II visited The Netherlands in 1985. He was the first pope to do so in over 900 years – the last being the 11th century pope Leo IX who pontificated from 1049 to 1054. Even the Dutch pope Adrian VI did not.

Colin Dexter’s famous character Inspector Morse was born in Stamford, Lincolnshire, to a taxi-driver father with an insatiable interest in Captain Cook and a Quaker mother – a combination responsible for Morse’s uncommon first name: Endeavour. His favourite composer was Wagner, and his favourite poet was A. E. Housman. In the TV series, Morse drove a red, 2.4 liter, 1960-ish Jaguar Mark Il, whereas in the original novels Morse drove a classic Lancia. It was changed to a Jaguar for the TV series and later changed in all subsequent printings of the books. The actor John Thaw (Inspector Morse) read all of the novels, whereas Kevin Whately (Sergeant Lewis) listened to them all on tape. Like the famous inspector, Thaw is known to have had an alcohol problem. Though ironically, Thaw hated the taste of beer – of which Morse drinks quite a lot. Nevertheless, real beer was used during filming. However, apple juice was used to resemble whiskey. Both Morse and author Colin Dexter were crossword puzzle enthusiasts. In fact, the name Morse was chosen for the character in homage to Sir Jeremy Morse, former chairman of Lloyds Bank and a compiler of fiendishly difficult crossword puzzles. Morse and Dexter also shared a birthday: September 29. Morse’s Law, according to Lewis states: “There’s always a 50-50 chance that whoever finds the body did the deed.” The total body count of the Inspector Morse series is 81.

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