30/vi mmxvi

Eskimos use refrigerators to stop their food from freezing.

Boots fitted with springs were forbidden by the original Queensberry Rules for boxing.

In 2014, a single parking space in London was sold for £400,000.

There is a Canadian skeleton racer called Dave Greszczyszyn.

Paris and Rome have only each other as sister city, following the motto “Only Paris is worthy of Rome; only Rome is worthy of Paris.”

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

A Message From Paris

‘The death cult chose its city well—Paris, secular capital of the world, as hospitable, diverse and charming a metropolis as was ever devised. And the death cult chose its targets in the city with ghoulish, self-damning accuracy—everything they loathed stood plainly before them on a happy Friday evening: men and women in easy association, wine, free-thinking, laughter, tolerance, music—wild and satirical rock and blues. The cultists came armed with savage nihilism and a hatred that lies beyond our understanding. Their protective armour was the suicide belt, their idea of the ultimate hiding place was the virtuous after-life, where the police cannot go. (The jihadist paradise is turning out to be one of humanity’s worst ever ideas; slash and burn in this life, eternal rest among kitsch in the next).

Paris, dazed and subdued, woke this morning to reflect on its new circumstances. Those of us who were out on the town last night can only wonder at the vagaries of chance that lets us live and others die. As the slaughter began, my wife and I were in a venerable Paris institution, a cliché of the modest good life since 1845. In this charming restaurant in the sixieme, one shares crowded tables with good-willed strangers, visitors and locals in a friendly crush. With our Pouilly Fume and filets d’hareng, we were as good a target as any. The cult chose the onzieme, the dixieme, barely a mile away and we didn’t know a thing.

Now we do. What are those changed circumstances? Security will tighten and Paris must become a little less charming. The necessary tension between security and freedom will remain a challenge. The death-cult’s bullets and bombs will come again, here or somewhere else, we can be sure. The citizens of London, New York, Berlin are paying close and nervous attention. In January we were all CharlieHebdo. Now, we are all Parisians and that at least, in a dark time, is a matter of pride.’

– McEwan. I. (2015, November 14). A Message From Paris. edge.org

Je Suis Paris

‘We’ll always have Paris.’

– Wallis, H.B. (Producer), Curtiz. M. (Director). (1942). Casablanca [Motion Picture]. United States: Warner Bros.

On the Need to Mock

“And aren’t we all tired of those who claim to know the answer to life, death and the creation being so fucking sensitive about their knowledge? If I knew the answer to it all, if I thought I understood the wishes of the author of the universe and was privileged to understand what happens to us after death, the last thing I would be is all prickly and defensive. ‘Mock me all you like,’ I’d cry. ‘Go on, laugh your socks off, paint crude daubs, make mocking films. They pass me by as the idle wind which I respect not.’

Whether it is deluded pricks chanting Christian slogans like Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo or deluded pricks chanting Islamic ones like Said and Charif Kouachi in Paris the result is the same: in this breast at least arises even more, as if that were possible, contempt for the dumb, semi-literate, ill-founded, unreasoned drivel that forms the basis of their juvenile, crazed and self-defeating actions.”

– Stephen Fry

16/iv mmxv

During the siege of Paris in 1870, the artist Manet’s cat was eaten by a person, or persons, unknown.

In 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to remove the word ‘lunatic’ from federal law by a margin of 398 to 1.

Damfino was Victorian slang for ‘damned if I know’.

Barbara Cartland dictated all her novels (over 700 titles) to a secretary, while lying on a sofa with a white fur rug and a hot water bottle.

Mohammed Salah al-Munajjid, the Sheik of Saudi Arabia, decreed in 2015 that making snowmen is a punishable offence.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

12/ii mmxv

Henry IV of France promoted green parks in Paris. He is responsible for a street called the Street of the Bridge of Cabbages.

10,113 Americans insured themselves against giving birth to the messiah at the millennium.

The 10th President of Nigeria (that is, the 3rd President of the Fourth Nigerian Republic), was called Goodluck Jonathan.

Scorpions navigate by starlight.

More than 50% of the world’s languages are located in just eight countries: India, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Indonesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, and Cameroon.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

1/v mmxiii

The first record of golf in England is more than a hundred years older than its appearance in Scotland.

English: Auguste Vaillants execution.

The execution of Auguste Vaillant in 1894

From 1871 to 1981, the title of the executioner of France was Monsieur de Paris, “Mister from Paris.” He was the only man certified to carry out executions in France, and was required to live in Paris.

Approximately 20 million golf balls are lost in water hazards on British golf courses every year.

The Tunisian born Hamida Djandoubi was the last person to be guillotined in France on the 10th of September 1977. Making him the last person to be executed by the modern Republic of France. The official execution method in the modern Republic of France had always been the guillotine.

King James II of Scotland (1430-60) made golf illegal on pain of death.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Paris Trap

The Paris Defence is one of Black’s responses to the Italian Game. It begins with the moves:

  1. e4 e5
  2. Nf3 Nc6
  3. Bc4 d6

The ECO code for the Paris Defence is C50 (part of the Italian Game). The Paris Defence was named after the game Rodzinski–Alekhine, which was played in Paris, in 1913.

[Moves 4. and 5.] White castles early and plays 4. o-o. Black responds with 4. … Bg4 and pins the Knight on f3 to the White Queen on d1. To deploy the Paris Trap, White wants to keep the tension on the f3 knight and use the pin to its advantage later on.

In the next move, White develops its other Knight and plays 5. Nc3, preparing the c3 Knight to jump to d5 in the execution of the trap. Then, Black will most likely seize the opportunity to take control of the centre and play 5. … Nd4, thereby piling up on the White Knight on f3.

[Moves 6. to 8.] White surprises Black with the move 6. Nf3xe5!, capturing the pawn on e5, but more importantly, moving out of the pin and exposing his Queen on d1 to the Bishop on g4. Black cannot but take the hanging Queen and play 6. … Bxd1.

As always, when your opponent sacrifices a piece like this – especially when the Queen is sacrificed – you should be aware that the other player is up to something. (Providing your opponent does not actually blunder.)

At this stage, White actually executes the Paris Trap with 7. Bxf7+, which wins with Ke7 (only move), allowing White to mate in one with 8. Nd5#, and it’s all over.

See other: Chess Traps