30/ix mmxvi


Guglielmo Marconi, the inventor of radio, was the great-grandson of the inventor of Jameson’s Irish whiskey.

The German Staubsauger and Dutch Stofzuiger, both literally translate as ‘dust-sucker’ to mean vacuum cleaner.

Victorian pantomimes starting at 7pm often did not finish until midnight.

In 2014, a pair of underpants donated by the mayor of Brussels was stolen from the Brussels Underpants Museum.

Between 1939 and 1945, World War II claimed an average of 1256 lives per hour; between 1934 and 1945, Holocaust claimed an average of 169 lives per hour.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

22/ix mmxvi


The symbol of the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada is the forget-me-not.

Turritopsis Nutricula is a sea-creature that reverts back to polyp stage after breeding, earning the nickname ‘The Immortal Jellyfish’.

Michael Sata, the president of Zambia, previously worked as a cleaner at London Victoria railway station.

The Dutch iet means ‘not nothing’ or ‘an entity of some importance’.

Roland Garros was a French fighter pilot during World War I. He also became the first person to cross the Mediterranean Sea by air in 1913.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

The Muddy Side of Dilettantism


‘More people know less about more.’

Nooteboom. C. 1980. Rituelen [Rituals] Amsterdam, The Netherlands: De Bezige Bij (2009) p. 140

Beguile [Verb.]


To deceive or delude.

From Middle English begilen, begylen. Compare Middle Dutch beghijlen.

‘I know, sir, I am no flatterer: he that beguiled you, in a plain accent, was a plain knave.’ – William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act II, Scene ii.

28/v mmxv


A human being has about the same number of genes as a cabbage.

Pumpkin Island, Australia, has been renamed XXXX Island.

Lipstick can still contain lead, but no more than 20 parts per million; arsenic, but no more than 3 parts per million; and mercury, but no more than one part per million.

The Dutch for ‘piglet’ is big.

According to the Quran, the testimony of two women is needed to contradict that of a man.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

3/ii mmxv


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.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

On Memories


“When a memory fails to appear, it seems as though the time when it was created did not really exist, and maybe that is true. Time itself is nothing; only the experience of it is something. When that dies, it assumes the form of a denial, the symbol of mortality, what you have already lost before you lose everything. When his friend had said something similar to his father, his response had been, If you had to retain everything, you’d explode. There’s simply not enough space for it all. Forgetting is like medicine; you have to take it at the right time.”

Cees Nooteboom

What To Call The @


The @ is called by many different names across the 28 member states of the EU – mainly animals. The map also locates curious clusters in which these animals congregate, as if certain climates are more favourable to certain imaginary creatures than to others. Electronic elephants seem to thrive only in Scandinavia, for example.

The Romance languages by and large stuck to the inanimate arroba, the pre-digital name for the @ sign in Spanish and Portuguese. That name is derived from the Arabic ar-rub, meaning a quarter – in this case, a measure of weight: 25% of what a donkey (or mule) could carry. In Spain, the customary weight of an arroba was 25 pounds (11.5 kg), in Portugal, 32 pounds (14.7 kg). On the map, we see these weights proliferate throughout the Iberian peninsula, but also in France and French-speaking Belgium (as arobase).

Continental Europe is otherwise dominated by digital monkeys, due to the likeness of the @ to a monkey tail curling around a tree branch. In Germany and Austria, the symbol is referred to as Klammeraffe. The word translates as ‘spider monkey’ – an American genus of monkey noted for its long tail. Klammer on its own can mean ‘bracket’, ‘staple’ or ‘paperclip’. The Klammeraffe shares Germany and Austria with the ordinary at. But in Poland, the małpa (‘monkey’) has the country to itself.

Dutch speakers in the Netherlands and Belgium refer to the @ as apenstaart(je), ‘(little) monkey tail’. In Luxembourgish, that becomes Afeschwanz.

The simian simile also proliferates throughout the Balkans: in Romanian, the @ is called coadă de maimuţă (‘monkey tail’), in Bulgarian маймунка (maimunka – ‘little monkey’). Croatians either use at or manki, a direct loan from the English ‘monkey’ (rather than the Croatian word for monkey, majmun). Their Slovenian neighbours call it an afna (‘little monkey’).

In Scandinavia, the elephant was seen as an apt metaphor for the curly a. In both Danish and Swedish, the @ is called snabel-a, with snabel meaning ‘[elephant’s] trunk’. Their Finnish neighbours offically call it at-merkki, but colloquially either kissanhäntä (‘cat’s tail’) or miukumauku (‘meow-meow’).

Czechs and Slovaks are united in their fishy metaphor for the @, finding in its curly appearance a similarity to zavináč, or ‘rollmops’ (rolled pickled herring fillets).

Italy is dominated by a chiocciola (‘snail’) riding up its boot. In Greece and Cyprus, the @ is rather enigmatically compared to a παπάκι (papaki – ‘duckling’).

The Baltics follow the English fashion, and say at. Not very imaginative perhaps, but less impalatable than the Hungarians, who say kukac, or ‘maggot’.

That concludes all the fauna on this delightfully weird map, but here are some other remarkable names for @ in other languages: Armenian: shnik (‘puppy’); Chinese: xiao laoshu (‘little mouse’); Japanese: naruto (after the tidal whirlpools in Naruto bay); Kazakh: aykulak (‘moon’s ear’); Norwegian: krøllalfa (‘curly alpha’); Russian: sobaka (‘dog’); Ukrainian: vukho (‘ear’).