Conversations: Conservatism and Society


Helena
The United States is unique among wealthy democracies in its level of religious adherence; it is also uniquely beleaguered by high rates of homicide, abortion, teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, and infant mortality.

Sappho
Sadly, the same comparison holds true within the United States itself: Southern and Midwestern states, characterized by the highest levels of religious literalism, are especially plagued by the above indicators of societal dysfunction, while the comparatively secular states of the Northeast conform to European norms.

Lysandra
Hang on, political party affiliation in the United States is not a perfect indicator of religiosity! Continue reading

Advertisements

3/ix mmxv


The Dogon people of Mali rub fried onions on their bodies as perfume.

The sweet, seedless navel orange was discovered in the mid-1800s on a single branch of a sour orange tree in a Brazilian monastery. The fruit even has a ‘belly-button’ – hence its name.

Britain is the only country in Europe that allows children to stop studying history at 13.

The Bulgarian word for beans is ‘bob’.

Tony Blair once told Des O’Connor that when he was 14, he stowed away on a plane from Newcastle to the Bahamas. In Newcastle airport’s 61-year history, there has never been a flight to the Bahamas.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

“When asked…” Anecdotes


When asked why he had a horseshoe on his door, physicist Niels Bohr answered, “Of course I don’t believe in it, but I understand it brings you luck, whether you believe in it or not.”

When asked in a radio interview if she thought the barriers of the British class system had broken down, Barbara Cartland answered, “Of course they have, or I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to someone like you.”

When asked by a priest, “Do you forgive your enemies,” the dying Spanish general Ramon Blanco y Erenas answered, “No, I don’t have any enemies. I’ve had them all shot.”

13/viii mmxv


In 1813, Camembert cheese was made an honorary citizen of the town of Caen in Normandy.

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

On 26 November 1867, due to a loophole in the law, Lily Maxwell became the first woman to vote in a British parliamentary election. As it turned out, British women would have to wait to 1928 to get the vote.

Air contains about a billion trillion atoms per cubic inch.

The male line in the Roman family tree was Pater (father), Avus (grandfather), Proavus (great-grandfather), Abavus (great-great-grandfather), Atavus (great-great-great-grandfather), Tritavus (great-great-great-great-grandfather).

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Young Tory of the Year


[Susan, a television presenter, (Stephen Fry) is in a box at a concert hall; there is a packed house behind her and an orchestra tuning up. A man called Brent Wheeler (Hugh Laurie) is sitting next to her.]

Susan: Hello and three dozen welcomes to the Harrowgate Young Tory of the Year, here at the Daily Mail Hall, Horrorgate, in front of an invited audience of local businessmen and their slightly awkward teenage children in pony-tails and annoying ties. With me is one of the judges, Brent Wheeler, and he’ll be giving expert advice and telling us what to look out for. Good evening Brent.

Brent: Quite right.

Susan: Brent, the standard last year was incredibly high, do you think we can look for something similar this year?

Brent: Well, Susan, I think we probably can. I’ve been a judge for some of the local heats and I can tell you the talent this year is as awesome as ever it’s been.

Susan: This being the night of the finals, the competitors will be concentrating on keynote speeches and displays of general prejudice and ignorance, is that right?

Brent: More or less. There is a new round this year, however, a Getting Shiny-faced in a T-shirt round.

Susan: T-shirt? That sounds very …

Brent: Well, this is the way modern Young Toryism is being developed. T-shirts show that it isn’t just an art for the middle classes, but has general American street fashion-wise appeal for the young and hip-trendy.

Susan: Right, well. The lights are going down behind me as you can probably hear, and our first competitor, Andrew Tredgold is ready to go on.

As a Young Tory, Andrew Tredgold, steps on to the stage with a speech. There is a blue cyclorama behind him with a Union Jack-Arrow logo and the slogan “Forward with into Britain tomorrow right step”.

Susan: (cont.) Andrew is in his second year at Exeter reading Human Bigotry and Libertarian Nonsense. He counts amongst his inspirations the “Family Values” theme by Kevin Patten, the “Further Cuts in Public Expenditure” suite by Kenneth Clarke, arranged Portillo, and the “Endless Variations in J. Major”. So, Andrew Tredgold, South West regional winner.

A young man called Andrew Tredgold (Hugh Laurie) stands in front of those perspex autocue screens and clears his throat. Stephen Fry is the conductor, a la Simon Rattle. Andrew watches nervously as Stephen gives him a reassuring smile and then cues him. The Planets – Jupiter by Gustav Holst is played in the background.

Andrew: (as Andrew: becoming incredibly fast) Conference. Core values, real punishment for offenders, family standards, opportunity for individual enterprise, roll back the frontiers of the state, Michael’s bold and imaginative initiative, and yes, why not corporal punishment, really crack down, young offenders, rules of law, and yes I make no apology, respect for ordinary decent vast majority, welfare spongers, as Norman said so clearly, individual enterprise culture, opportunity attack on trendy liberal educational wishy-washy to pick up on Kevin’s wonderfully forceful point, sloppy thinking, sixties, in Michael’s bold and imaginative values, standards, decency, family, law, yes. I make no apology and why not even perhaps, God and pride in country, decent ordinary sloppy people, vast majority of bold new initiatives, decent, family standards, core values, return to fifties, reponsibility, individual, respect, standard, values, and yes, why not, values, respect, standards, ordinary, decent apology, I make no standards, vast family law, and why not sloppy corporal God punishment individual decent spongers wishy-washy trendy family crime Michael values. Thank you.

Huge applause.

Susan: Well, the audience absolutely loving Andrew’s performance there. But what will the judges make of it, I wonder? Brent.

Brent: Well, it was wonderfully confident and assured, wasn’t it? Original, though. I’m not sure how much the judges will like that. Did you notice in one of the earlier passages he opted for “family standards” instead of the more classically correct “family values”? But the technique was astonishing for one his age: he was every bit as insulting as a Tory twice his age.

Susan: Any actual mistakes?

Brent: Not real mistakes, no.

Susan: I thought at one point that he was going to say something that made sense.

Brent: He just managed to avoid that, didn’t he? A tense moment. But, no. Very assured, very ghastly: completely sucked dry of youth, energy, ideals, imagination, love, passion or intelligence.

Susan: Well, while the audience vomit we’ll return you to the shop where we bought you.

 – Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie: A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1989-1995)

5


In order to celebrate Knowledge Guild’s 5th anniversary we are going to take a closer look at the number 5. Do not worry, it is not as dull as it sounds.

  • The number of people killed by sharks since records began is equal to just five per cent of the number of toilet-related injuries in the USA in 1996.
  • In the 18th century, 75% of all children died before they were five years old. 90% of children born in workhouses died before they were five years old.
  • As a trick, the writer Arthur Conan Doyle once sent a letter to five friends that read, “We are discovered. Flee immediately.” One of his friends disappeared and Doyle never saw him again.
  • An enzyme found in pineapples called “Bromelain” destroys fingerprints. It was used as a plotline in an episode of Hawaii Five-O. This enzyme can also get rid of mouth ulcers.
  • Chelmsford was capital of England for five days in 1381 during the Peasants Revolt.
  • The Punjabi for the number “5” is “4”.
  • The most dangerous sport for American women is cheerleading. In 2002, 22,900 children between five and eighteen years of age went to hospital for cheerleading related injuries.
  • Charles Darwin is one of only five people who are not royal to be buried in Westminster Abbey.
  • Smoking takes five years off your health expectancy on average. However, as a man, removing your testicles adds thirteen years onto it.
  • The Hebrew for the number “5” is pronounced “Hey”.
  • The average height of an Eskimo is 5’4″ and the average life expectancy is 39. If you put five Eskimos in car, every Eskimo in the world could fit into the Los Angeles International Airport car park.
  • The best thing to do with an old Christmas tree is to contact your local zoo and see if they want to give it to their animals for food. In Germany people often feed Christmas trees to elephants, which can eat five of them for lunch. In Dresden Zoo they also give Christmas trees to giraffes, rhinos, camels, deer and sheep.
  • In Alexandre Dumas’ novel La Dem Aux Camelias, the main heroine, Marguerite Gautier, wears a white camellia for 25 days of month when she is available for sex, and a red one for five days when she is not available because she is having her period. The novel caused scandal in 19th century France when it was published and the flowers popularity grew.
  • The five appendages on most starfish exhibit pentamerism.
  • Only five people died in the Great Fire of London.
  • India has no speed limits and every car in the country within five years will be involved in a fatal road accident. The UK has the largest number of car thefts in the world.
  • Five pound notes are made out of a mixture of cotton and linen. Wooden paper is too fragile.
  • There are only five places in America which have an apostrophe in them which are Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts; Ike’s Point, New Jersey; John E’s Pond, Rhode Island; Carlos Elmer’s Joshua View, Arizona; and Clark’s Mountain, Oregon.
  • In the British Army, you can tell which branch of the Brigade of Guards a soldier is in by the gaps between the buttons. If they are evenly spaced, they are in the Grenadiers Guards. Pairs mean they are Coldstream Guards, threes are Scottish Guards, fours are Irish Guards, and fives are Welsh Guards.
  • The ideal way to kiss a Frenchman depends on what region of France you are in. Two kisses are normal in central and southern France and four in northern France. However, in Corsica it can be as many as five kisses. In Belgium and the Netherlands, three kisses is the usual amount.
  • Anchovies are now mainly used for feed salmon in fish farms. For every salmon, five kilograms of anchovies are killed. Therefore, salmon farming is not really sustainable.
  • Each country in the world has their own idea of how many portions of fruit and veg you should eat every day. The reason it is five in Britain is because doctors are of the belief that you cannot persuade the public to eat more than that. In Japan they recommend eating nine portions of fruit and veg, in Denmark it is six, in France it is ten.
  • A Fitzroy is a bastard child of a royal. Charles II had five Fitzroys from his mistress Barbara Palmer.

See other: Anniversaries

The Medieval Man Price


‘There was no distinction between civil and criminal law. All legal processes came down to one man making an accusation against another and demanding retribution. Criminal law, in which the state detects the offense, takes the accused to court and demands and imposes punishment, simply did not exist in early medieval society. Every householder had his own ‘peace’, and a breach of this (a theft or act of violence) was followed to an appeal to the local court, demanding cash payment in recompense.

[…] Every life had a cash value (the wergild, or ‘man price’). An aristocrat’s (thegn’s) life, and his oath, were worth six times that of a common man (1200 shillings as against 200).

Anglo-Saxon law codes read like modern insurance policies. For example, the list of compensation payments set out in the laws of Ethelbert, King of Kent from 560 to 616, include:

If an ear be struck off, twelve shillings.
If the other ear hear not, twenty-five shillings.
If an ear be pierced, three shillings.
If an ear be mutilated, six shillings.
If an eye be (struck) out, fifty shillings.
If the mouth or an eye be injured, twelve shillings.
If the nose be pierced, nine shillings.
If the nose otherwise be mutilated, for each six shillings.
For each of the four front teeth, six shillings; for the tooth which stands next to them four shillings; for that which stands next to that, three shillings; and then afterwards, for each a shilling.

And so the list went on, painstakingly costing fingers and toes, nails and skin, bruises and bones. This, naturally, gave everyone a great interest in the law. If the offender refused to pay up the victim was entitled to conduct a private war, with the support of his hundred (local district).’

– Jones. T., Ereira. A. 2004. Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives London, Great Britain: BBC Books (2005) p. 67-68

18/ix mmxiii


The word acetabuliform means ‘saucer-shaped’.

tram/car crash in Den Haag, the Netherlands

A tram and car crash in Den Haag, the Netherlands

The word accismus means ‘the pretence of turning down something desperately wanted’.

In 1996, 12 people in Britain were rushed to hospital after a paperclip accident.

In 1999, the odds of being killed in a car crash in Britain were slightly less than being killed in an accident inside your own home.

In Britain in 1993, three people needed hospital treatment as a result of accidents with their tea-cosies.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts