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About 78% of the food advertised on Canadian television is fast food.

The first ever hot air balloon passengers were a sheep, a duck and a rooster. They made their successful flight in 1783.

The Japanese and Russians call the sun red. The Chinese call it yellow and white.

George W. Bush was the first American President to come to office with a criminal record. He had been arrested for drunk driving. Bush was the second man with a criminal record to become President if you count George Washington’s record for treason.

If you spent one day visiting each of Indonesia’s islands, it would take 48 years to see them all.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

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’).

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The official US State sport of South Dakota, Wyoming and Texas is Rodeo.

“Waltzing Matilda” is not about dancing, nor about a girl called Matilda. It is Aussie slang for drifting around the outback on foot with a bedroll – your ‘matilda’ – slung around your shoulder.

The Greeks introduced the olive to Italy around 600 BCE.

The 1982 American comedy series Police Squad!, which starred Leslie Nielsen and was produced by ABC, was cancelled after just six episodes. Then-ABC entertainment president Tony Thomopoulos said “Police Squad! was cancelled because the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it.” What Thomopoulos meant was that the viewer had to actually pay close attention to the show in order to get much of the humour, while most other TV shows did not demand as much effort from the viewer. In its annual Cheers and Jeers issue, TV Guide magazine quite rightly called the explanation for the cancellation “the most stupid reason a network ever gave for ending a series.”

Catherine the Great was famous for making five mistakes in a word containing only three letters. Not being a native Russian speaker, she once misspelled the word ‘eщё’ as ‘истчо’.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts


The term Tsar is mainly used to mean the emperor of Russia but can also refer to a ruler of several Slavic kingdoms. The term is a Latinization of the Russian word ‘czar’, which is ultimately derived from the Latin ‘Caesar’.

In Russia, Ivan IV Vasilyevich, also known as the Terrible, became the first Tsar of All the Russias in 1547. He died from a stroke while playing chess with Bogdan Belsky in 1584.

However, in history, there have been many more Tsars and Tsardoms. In fact, the title Tsar has been used as the official title of the supreme ruler in the following states:

  • First Bulgarian Empire (913–1018)
  • Second Bulgarian Empire (1185–1422)
  • Serbian Empire (1346–1371)
  • Tsardom of Russia (1547–1721)
  • Tsardom of Bulgaria (1908–1946)

Odd Words (i)

Old English
dūstscēawung (f.) [noun.]

  • viewing or contemplation of dust.

mustadûra [noun.]

  • the act of treading on grapes.

desengaño (m.) [noun.]

  • realization of the truth, especially after a period of deceit.

maywaq [noun.]

  • he who caresses.

huhu [noun.]

  • breast; breasts; teat;
  • fork.

mania [adjective.]

  • (of the sea or weather) calm;
  • (figuratively) serene, tranquil, peaceful (state of mind).

allpayay [verb.]

  • to become soil.

hen [pronoun.]

  • (neologism) a personal pronoun of unspecified gender; an alternative to “hon” (she) or “han” (he).

Tante-Emma-Laden (m.) [noun.]

  • mom-and-pop grocery store, mom-and-pop convenience store.

шпионома́ния (špionománija) (f.) [noun.]

  • spy mania, spy fever (paranoia about spies, fearmongering about the threat of foreign spies).

Old Norse
hundrað (n.) [noun.]

  • a long hundred (120).

rupsahtaa [verb.]

  • to lose one’s beauty or handsomeness, especially regarding the shape and firmness of body.

esgatinyar-se [verb.]

  • to fight mutually using scratches, in the manner of cats;
  • (figuratively) to have a catfight.

pekoral (f.) [noun.]

  • a text written in a grandiloquent or pompous style but lacking literary quality, thus making it seem overly pretentious or ridiculous.

arborēscō [verb.]

  • I become a tree.

Tok Pisin
long [preposition.]

  • used to mark spatial direct objects that something is oriented in the manner of, where English would use to, toward, into, or onto;
  • used to mark spatial direct objects that something is oriented in the location of, where English would use in, at, on, or near;
  • used to mark indirect objects, or direct objects of intransitive verbs, where English would use to;
  • used to mark spatial direct objects that something is oriented in the manner opposite of, extracted from, or away from, where English would use from or out of.

See other: Odd Words

The Fool’s Mate

The Fool’s Mate, also known as the Scholar’s Mate, or Two-Move Checkmate, is the quickest possible checkmate in chess. There are a few variations; a prime example consists of the moves:

  1. f3 e5
  2. g4?? Qh4#

The pattern can have slight variations; for example White might open with 1. f4 instead of 1. f3 or move the g-pawn first, and Black might play 1. … e6 instead of 1. … e5.

The Fool’s Mate received its name because it can only occur if White plays extraordinarily weakly. Even among rank beginners, the mate almost never occurs in practice.

Nevertheless, the Fool’s Mate principle is known by different names around the world:

  • In French, Turkish, German, Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese: Shepherd’s Mate
  • In Russian: Children’s Mate
  • In Italian: Barber’s Mate
  • In Persian, Greek and Arabic: Napoleon’s Plan
  • In Polish: Scholar’s Mate
  • In Danish, Hungarian, Slovenian and Hebrew: Shoemaker’s Mate
  • In Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian and sometimes in Danish: School Mate

The Fool’s Mate has also occasionally been given other names in English, such as Schoolboy’s Mate and Blitzkrieg (German for ‘lightning war’, meaning a very short and quick engagement).

See other: Chess Traps

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St. Dismas, the Penitent Thief crucified with Christ, is the patron saint of funeral directors.

Russian icon with 5 themes. Fragment: Good Fel...

Russian icon fragment: Good Felon enters Heaven.

Before the end of the last Ice Age, people only ever grew plants for fun, not because they had to. The catastrophic floods caused by the melting of the ice-caps and the resulting shortage of land put a stop to that forever, and agriculture began.

In the Thai language, the word ngaan means both ‘to work’ and ‘to have fun’.

Russian has no expression for ‘having fun’.

Nobody knows where the word ‘fun’ comes from. Other common three-letter words with a similarly mysterious origin include ‘big’, ‘bad’, ‘jam’, ‘jaw’, ‘put’ and ‘dog’.