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The Great Council of Venice declared prostitution to be “absolutely indispensable to the world” in 1358, and government-funded brothels were established in major Italian cities throughout the 14th and 15th centuries.

The British Crown Jewels are not insured.

A government laboratory in Beijing uses electric eels to predict the time and location of earthquakes. In 2005, its accuracy rate was 89 percent.

Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires means “Good air”.

The Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to East Asia. They constitute approximately 20% of the entire global human population, making it the largest ethnic group in the world.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

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Cleavage in Politics


Cleavage is not just the space between a woman’s breasts, it can mean a lot of things: in biology, it is the repeated division of a cell into daughter cells after mitosis; in chemistry, it is the splitting of a large molecule into smaller ones; and in politics, the division of voters into voting blocs.

English is unique in the way it uses the word ‘cleavage’ for all these different phenomena.

“Breasts are a scandal because they shatter the border between motherhood and sexuality.” – Iris Marion Young

Political systems are characterised by cleavages. These are the metaphorical lines which divide members of the community into different sides. Cleavage lines are mainly founded on values, ethnicity, language or socioeconomic status.

Specific issues, political parties and ideology on the other hand are not the bases for cleavage, but they may well be indicative of the fundamental value conflicts which do constitute the lines of cleavage in a particular system.

Chinese Whispers


When a story is told from person to person, especially if it is gossip or scandal, it inevitably gets distorted and exaggerated. This process is called Chinese whispers.

Chinese Whispers is also a name for a game played around the world, in which one person whispers a message to another, which is passed through a line of people until the last player announces the message to the entire group.

Errors typically accumulate when the story is repeated, so the statement announced by the last player differs significantly, and often amusingly, from the one uttered by the first.

The Mandan’s Okipa


The Mandan are a Native American people living in North Dakota. They are enrolled in the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, North Dakota. About half of the Mandan still reside in the area of the reservation; the rest reside around the United States and in Canada.

The Okipa Ceremony as Witnessed by George Catlin

According to pre-Christian Mandan beliefs, each person possessed four different, immortal souls. The first soul was white and often seen as a shooting star or meteor. The second soul was coloured a light brown and was seen in the form of the meadowlark. The third soul, called the lodge spirit, remained at the site of the lodge after death and would remain there forever. The final soul was black and after death would travel away from the village. These final souls existed as did living people; residing in their own villages, farming and hunting.

The Okipa ceremony was a major part of Mandan religious life. This complex ceremony about the creation of the earth was first recorded by George Catlin. The ceremony opened with a Bison Dance, followed by a variety of torturous ordeals through which warriors proved their physical courage and gained the approval of the spirits.

The Okipa began with the young man not eating, drinking, or sleeping for four days. Then they were led to a hut, where they had to sit with smiling faces while the skin of their chest and shoulders was slit and wooden skewers were thrust behind the muscles. Using the skewers to support the weight of their bodies, the warriors would be suspended from the roof of the lodge and would hang there until they fainted. To add agony, heavy weights were added to the initiate’s legs. After fainting, the warrior would be pulled down and the men (women were not allowed to attend this ceremony) would watch the warrior until he awoke, proving the spirits’ approval. Upon awakening, the warrior would offer his left pinkie finger to the Great Spirit, whereupon a masked tribesman would sever it with a hatchet blow. Finally, participants would endure a gruelling race around the village called “the last race” with weights and skewers still in place, to determine who among them was the strongest.

Those finishing the ceremony were seen as being honoured by the spirits; those completing the ceremony twice would gain everlasting fame among the tribe. Chief Four Bears, or Ma-to-toh-pe, completed this ceremony twice. The last Okipa ceremony was performed in 1889, but the ceremony was resurrected in a somewhat different form in 1983.

See other: Hall of Fame Posts

The End Of The World


‘The Earth is degenerating today. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer obey their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.’

– Assyrian Tablet, c. 2800 BC

Kowtow [Verb.]


Kowtow, which describes the act of kneeling and touching one’s head to the ground to show respect, used to be a custom in Chinese culture. Now it refers to acting like you’re doing that, whether you actually bow or not.

Kowtow is derived from the Chinese word k’o-t’ou, which literally means “knock the head.” As a verb, kowtow has the sense of “sucking up” or “flattering.” Maybe you’re wondering when it would be appropriate to kowtow. The answer? When you want to worship, show respect, gain favour, or flatter. You might need to kowtow to your teacher if you failed a test, but if you kowtow to all your neighbour’s requests, you might wind up mowing his lawn all summer.