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Archive for the ‘Edutainment’ Category

Take the Cannoli

Now and then, a list surfaces of the “greatest movie quotes of all time,” in the subjective opinion of some person or group.

The American Film Institute once asked 1,500-odd people in the movie business to nominate their favorite movie quotes — dialogue that made a film memorable, clicked with popular culture, and became a part of the national lexicon.

On the AFI list, the same familiar quotes are in the top 10. Namely, these:

• “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” Gone with the Wind, 1939.

• “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.” The Godfather, 1972.

• “You don’t understand! I could’ve had class. I could’ve been a contender. I could’ve been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am.” On the Waterfront, 1954.

• “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” The Wizard of Oz, 1939.

• “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Casablanca, 1942.

• “May The Force be with you.” Star Wars, 1977.

• “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Cool Hand Luke, 1967.

• “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Apocalypse Now, 1979.

• “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Love Story, 1970.

• “E.T. phone home.” E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 1982.

The concept is fine. Movie quotes are entertaining and fun. But ranking them? Why make it a competition? I say lighten up. Celebrate and enjoy them for their individual merits.

In that spirit, here are more standout movie quotes, in my subjective opinion, presented randomly and unranked.

———

• “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” Casablanca, 1942.

• “Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here! This is the war room!” Dr. Strangelove, 1964.

• “I’ll have what she’s having.” When Harry Met Sally, 1989.

• “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951.

• “That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.” Babe, 1995.

• “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.” The Princess Bride, 1987.

• “I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.” Airplane, 1980.

Shirley

• “I see dead people.” The Sixth Sense, 1999.

• “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” The Wizard of Oz, 1939.

• “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!” The Wizard of Oz, 1939.

• “I feel the need — the need for speed!” Top Gun, 1986.

• “Round up the usual suspects!” Casablanca, 1942.

• “Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!” Planet of the Apes, 1968.

• “Hey! I’m walkin’ here!” Midnight Cowboy, 1969.

Walkin'

• “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.” Sunset Boulevard, 1950.

• “Show me the money!” Jerry Maguire, 1996.

• “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” Chinatown, 1974.

• “You can’t handle the truth!” A Few Good Men, 1992.

“Is it safe?” Marathon Man, 1976.

Is it safe

• “You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” To Have and Have Not, 1944.

• “Listen to them, the children of the night! What music they make!” Dracula, 1931.

• “Say hello to my little friend!” Scarface, 1983.

• “Go ahead, make my day.” Sudden Impact, 1983.

• “I’ll be back.” The Terminator, 1984.

• “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” Star Wars, 1977.

• “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” The Godfather, 1972.

Cannoli

 

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Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● The equals sign (=) was dreamed up in 1557 by Welsh mathematician Robert Recorde, who said he was tired of writing “is equal to” ad infinitum.

● Pokémon, the omnipresent Japanese game franchise, was created in 1990 by video game designer Satoshi Tajiri. So far, 807 Pokémoncreatures have been introduced.

The word Pokémon is a contraction of the Japanese term Poketto Monsutā (Pocket Monsters). The inventor said the game was inspired by his childhood hobby of collecting bugs.

● The teeth of mammals are specialized according to subgroup (bovine teeth differ from canine teeth, etc.), but all teeth have three components: an outer layer of inorganic enamel, the hardest substance in the body; a middle layer of living dentin, which is similar to bone; and the central pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels to nourish the dentin.

In 1758, the King of Spain issued a land grant in central Mexico to Don Jose Antonio de Cuervo. There, near the town of Tequila, the Cuervo family cultivated blue agaves, producing the first commercial mezcal de tequila in 1795.

In 1900, the widow of a recently-deceased Don married Jose Cuervo Labatida, a master distiller at a competing company. He became the new Don, and the Cuervo family brand became “Jose Cuervo Tequila. It is still family-owned today.

Jose Cuervo

● Japanese baseball phenom Ichiro Suzuki spent nine seasons (1992-2000) in Nippon Professional Baseball before starting his MLB career in the U.S. His playing career ended in 2018, and he moved up to management with the Seattle Mariners. He holds 26 MLB records for hitting and batting.

In June 2016, Ichiro recorded career hit number 4,257, breaking the record held by Pete Rose. Rose was snarky because Ichiro got his first 1,278 hits in the Nippon League. “The next thing you know, you’ll be counting his high school hits,” said Rose, always a class act.

● Footwear is almost exclusively mass-produced these days, but historically, shoe-making was an important craft — as well as laborious and time-consuming. Technically, an artisan who makes new footwear is a cordwainer, and one who makes repairs is a cobbler.

● In 2016, it was revealed that President François Hollande of France had a full-time personal barber on his staff, at a salary of $132,000 annually. Because of high unemployment and domestic troubles, Hollande’s approval rating already was the lowest for a French President in modern history. The barber story was the last straw, and Hollande declined to seek reelection in 2017.

In most animal species, the males use ornamentation (elaborate plumage, bright colors, impressive antlers) to attract females. One rare example of females using ornamentation to attract males is the glow worm, a variety of flightless beetle.

All glow worms glow in the larval stage, but only females retain the ability to shine as adults. Researchers have found that (a) the brightest females produce the most eggs and (b) males are attracted to females that glow the brightest.

Glow worm

● Chewing gum has been banned in Singapore since 1992. The government was fed up with vandals finding creative ways to dispose of their gum: in keyholes, on elevator buttons, in mailboxes, under bus seats, and, of course, on streets and sidewalks. Some vandals had taken to sticking wads of gum on the door sensors of mass transit vehicles, which not only screws up schedules, but also is a safety risk.

Lobbyists for Wrigley Co., the chewing gum behemoth, tried to beat the ban (of course they did), but only managed one minor concession: in 2003, Singapore conceded that certain chewing gums have health benefits, such as ingredients that strengthen tooth enamel.

Thus, the sale of “medicinal gum” now is allowed, but only by dentists and pharmacists, who are required to report the names of the buyers.

● The longest cave system in the world is Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, which is documented as 405 miles long. It likely will become even longer as connections are found to other cave systems in the limestone of the region.

The world’s second-longest cave system, located in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, is 215 miles long. The third longest is in South Dakota and is 193 miles long.

General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson got his nickname at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861 from fellow general Barnard Bee, who remarked that Jackson stood his ground like a “stone wall.”

Bee was killed in the battle, so no one knows whether he was complementing Jackson for his courage or insulting him, alluding to the fact that Jackson and his men should have advanced, but did not.

The hoatzin, a tropical bird native to the Amazon region, is the only member of its genus, having evolved separately from other birds. Due to their appearance, they are known as reptile birds.

The species is unique for having a digestive system that ferments vegetation in a specialized stomach, as do ruminants (cows, goats, deer). For this reason, hoatzins smell terrible and also are known as stinkbirds or skunk birds.

Hoatzin

 

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Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

The chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1938 by Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Wakefield used an ice pick to break up bars of Nestlé’s chocolate and sprinkled the pieces onto cookie dough. She named her creation Toll House cookies.

In 1939, Wakefield gave Nestlé the right to print her recipe on its packaging. Nestlé hired her as a “recipe consultant,” her compensation being one dollar and free chocolate for life.

● British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was half American. His mother was Brooklyn socialite Jennie Jerome, who married Lord Randolph Churchill and thus transitioned to being a British socialite.

● Planned Parenthood has twice as many members as the National Rifle Association.

● Grass was cut with a scythe until the lawnmower came along. It was patented in 1830 by British mechanic Edwin Budding. His device was a push mower with blades in a rotating cylinder.

In 1914, auto industry pioneer Ransom Olds patented a gasoline-powered version of the rotary mower. The self-propelled, walk-behind power mower we use today appeared in the late 1920s.

Lawnmower

Speaking of Ransom Olds, his 1901 Oldsmobile was the first vehicle to be mass-produced on an assembly line. Henry Ford made the auto assembly line famous, but Olds invented the concept.

● Sweden has developed a highly efficient system that combines serious recycling with a national network of incinerators that burn garbage and trash to generate electricity. Today, less than one percent of Sweden’s refuse ends up in landfills. In fact, to keep up with its energy needs, Sweden imports refuse from neighboring countries.

● American painter James Whistler’s is famous for the iconic 1871 painting popularly known as “Whistler’s Mother.” The actual name of the painting is “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1.”

● In 1931, Alfred M. Butts invented Lexiko, a modestly successful game in which players made words out of letter tiles drawn at random. In 1948, Butts sold the game’s rights to James Brunot, who changed the name to Scrabble. Sales were miserable.

Brunot gave up in 1952 and sold out to Selchow and Righter, an established game manufacturer. Sales promptly soared.

Today, the Scrabble trademark is owned by Hasbro in the U.S. and Canada and by Mattel in the rest of the world. In all, about 150 million Scrabble sets have been sold.

Scrabble

In 1792, a small Spanish settlement was established on San Francisco Bay to serve arriving ships. In 1835, English homesteader William Richardson expanded the settlement and named it Yerba Buena after a common plant in the area. In 1847, one year after the Mexican-American War, the U.S. laid claim to California, and Yerba Buena was renamed San Francisco.

An acersecomic is someone whose hair has never been cut. The word comes from the Latin acersecomes, which means a youth with long hair. In ancient Greece and Rome, a boy’s hair often remained uncut until he reached adulthood.

In 2009, for the first time, state-run TV in North Korea aired a feature film made in the decadent West. It was the 2002 soccer film “Bend It Like Beckham.” The film was shown in honor of the 10th anniversary of diplomatic ties with Great Britain.

● Jordan almonds have been a staple at weddings for centuries. The Greeks served them in groups of five (a number that is indivisible, as everyone hoped the marriage would be). In Italy, five almonds represent five wishes for the happy couple: health, happiness, fertility, financial success, and longevity.

In some cultures, the combination of the bittersweet almond and the sugar coating is a symbol of the good times/challenging times ahead. In the Middle East, Jordans are associated with fertility and are considered an aphrodisiac.

In 1502, at the marriage of Italian noblewoman Lucrezia Borgia (daughter of Pope Alexander VI) and her third husband Duke Alfonso d’Este, the wedding guests reportedly consumed 260 pounds of Jordan almonds.

Jordan almonds

 

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Sometimes, I hear it said that English (modern English, which is the fourth variation to evolve over the last 1,400 years) is a difficult language to learn. I also hear that it’s relatively easy.

The real answer is that it depends. Depends on the similarity of your native language to English. Depends on your brain’s affinity for languages.

And here’s another angle to consider: language weirdness.

A few years ago, Idibon, a technology company that specialized in the analysis of languages for global operations such as Google and Facebook, assessed the world’s languages based on how weird they are. In other words, the degree to which they are unique and unlike other languages.

On the weirdness scale, English was ranked number 33 out of 239 world languages. That’s fairly high, but 32 languages scored even weirder.

The prize for weirdest language went to Chalcatongo Mixtec, spoken in a remote part of the state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. In second place was Nenets, the language of the Samoyed people, who are reindeer herders in Siberia. Number three was the Native American language Choctaw.

Being a wordsmith and knowing English relatively well (it is, after all, my thing), I consider my native tongue (1) pretty darn difficult and (2) seriously weird.

English grammar and sentence structure are fairly straightforward and sensible. But English is poised to trip you up because of constant contradictions and exceptions to the rules.

Why is the “h” silent in herb, hour, honest, and rhapsody, but not in house, home, human, and hospital?

If it isn’t words with multiple meanings that throw you a curve, it’s words with multiple pronunciations.

Or it’s colloquial words and phrases that don’t make sense.

Why in the world is a handbag called a pocketbook?

How can a newcomer to English know what “working the graveyard shift” means?

What about “It’s a piece of cake” or “I’ll take a rain check”?

You get the picture, right?

All in all, English is flexible, fun, quirky, and endlessly fascinating, but oh, so easy to botch.

Allow me to elaborate, beginning with an anonymous poem entitled “Why English is Hard to Learn.”

Weird-1

Methren. Shim. Very clever.

More examples of English weirdness:

— The word inappropriate means not appropriate; but the word invaluable means very valuable. Likewise, the word inconceivable means not conceivable; yet, the word inflammable means flammable.

— There is no egg in an eggplant; no ham in a hamburger; and neither pine nor apple in a pineapple.

— You can make amends, but you can’t make an amend.

— Goods are always shipped, whether sent by ship, truck, or oxcart.

— We park on the driveway and drive on the parkway.

— Your nose can run, and your feet can smell.

Slim chance and fat chance mean the same thing; wise man and wise guy do not.

— Your house can burn up or burn down.

— You can fill in a form, or you can fill out a form.

— An alarm can go off, or it can go on.

— The words tear and tier are pronounced the same. But if you shed a tear and tear your pants, they aren’t.

— Quicksand works slowly.

— Boxing rings are square.

Weird-2

Imagine that you are freshly arrived from the old country, and you set out to learn English. How would you react when presented with these statements?

— The bandage was wound around the wound.

— I had to desert my dessert in the desert.

— A shot rang out, and the dove dove into the bushes.

— There’s no time like the present, so it’s time to present the present.

— Farms produce produce.

— Being full, the landfill refused my refuse.

— No, I don’t object to the object.

— The drummer put a picture of a bass on his bass drum.

— The boss needs to get the lead out and lead.

— That book I just read, it was a great read.

English is weird, man. Truly weird.

Weird-3

Weird-4

 

 

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More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● While exploring Asia in the late 1200s, Marco Polo encountered a rhinoceros and concluded it was a unicorn. “They are very ugly brutes to look at,” he wrote. “They are not at all such as we describe unicorns.”

● Writing with pen and ink was a messy and frustrating business until a ray of hope appeared in 1888. That year, a patent was issued for a pen with a rotating ball in the tip to control the release of ink. A clever concept, but the thing was still annoyingly unpredictable.

The real breakthrough came in the 1940s, when Laszlo Biro, a Hungarian newspaper editor, observed that printing ink dries faster than writing ink. Biro developed a formulation that worked well in a ballpoint pen, made millions, and eventually sold his patent to the Bic Corporation.

In most of Europe and Asia today, a ballpoint pen is called a ‘biro.”

● The first woman elected to Congress was Jeannette Rankin of Montana, who served two terms in the House of Representatives, 1917-1919 and 1941-1943, both during wartime. A Republican, she was a long-time leader of the women’s suffrage movement and a committed pacifist.

During the 1916 campaign, as World War I raged in Europe, she said, “If they are going to have war, they ought to take the old men and leave the young to propagate the race.” After the attack on Pearl Harbor, she was the only member of the House to vote against declaring war on Japan. “As a woman, I can’t go to war,” she said, “and I refuse to send anyone else.”

● In the Western Hemisphere, hurricanes are classified according to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Developed in 1971, the scale rates a storm based on sustained wind speed and anticipated property damage.

The scale’s creators were Herbert Saffir, a structural engineer, and Robert Simpson, a meteorologist. They patterned it after the Richter Scale, which quantifies earthquakes.

Hurricane scale

● Vodka is a tasteless spirit distilled from fermented grain or potatoes. The name comes from the Russian word “voda” (water) and/or the Polish word “woda” (water).

Both countries claim to have invented vodka. Russia says it invented the stuff in the 9th century. Poland says vodka was first distilled in Poland in the 8th century. Russia dismisses the early Polish version as a crude brandy, not real vodka. Take that, Poland.

● The largest national park in the U.S. is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Established in 1980, the park covers 20,000 square miles, which is a bit larger than Switzerland and a bit smaller than Ireland.

● Cleopatra (69 BC – 30 BC) ruled Egypt as the last member of the Ptolemaic dynasty, a family of Greeks who took power after the death of Alexander the Great in 305 BC. Cleopatra was the only Ptolemy to speak Egyptian instead of Greek. After her death, reportedly by suicide, Egypt became a Roman province.

● Nike, Inc., the footwear and apparel behemoth, began in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports. In 1971, having settled on a new “swoosh” logo design, the company sought a new name.

Among the top proposals by the founders and employees were Peregrine, Bengal, and Dimension Six. Then, employee Jeff Johnson called in from a business trip to Portland, Oregon, and suggested Nike, the name of the winged Greek goddess of victory.

CEO Phil Knight made the final decision. “I guess we’ll go with the Nike thing for a while,” he reportedly said. “I don’t like any of them, but I guess that’s the best of the bunch.”

Nike

● The 17th Century Native American woman Pocahontas, daughter of Chief Powhatan, is famous for intervening to save the life of Captain John Smith as her father was about to execute him. For the most part, her story has been romanticized and exaggerated.

In real life, she was kidnapped by the English, converted to Christianity, took the name Rebecca, got married, had a son, toured England as an example of a “civilized savage,” and died there at age 21.

● You know how bags of potato chips are inflated and puffy, and they go whoosh when you open them? That’s because the bags are filled with nitrogen gas before sealing. Nitrogen is used because it’s a stable gas that doesn’t react chemically with the chips, so they remain fresh longer.

● At present, 24 countries around the world are named for men (Bolivia for Simon Bolivar, Colombia for Christopher Columbus, The Philippines for King Philip of Spain, etc.). Only one country, the Caribbean nation of Saint Lucia, is named for a woman.

Saint Lucia of Syracuse, aka Saint Lucy, was martyred in 304 AD by the conquering Romans for distributing her considerable riches among her Greek countrymen. This displeased her betrothed, a highly-connected Roman, and she was sentenced to be defiled in a brothel.

According to legend, the guards who came to arrest her were unable to move her, even with a team of oxen. They tried to burn her at the stake, but the fire went out. Finally, she was sent to her reward by sword.

The late comedian Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) is buried at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Cemetery in Miami. Etched into the marble steps leading to his grave is one of his well-known catchphrases, And away we go!

Gleason grave

 

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Before the internet made it so easy, people shared funny stuff in another way: they photocopied whatever it was — humorous image, joke, botched headline — and shared it by mail.

Don’t laugh. Not too long ago, that was cutting-edge technology.

It’s also a fact that lots of the material now online is old, dating back to the snail mail days. I was reminded of that recently when I ran across the list below of “Things My Mother Taught Me.”

I’m pretty sure I photocopied this at some point and sent it to my mom. If I didn’t, shame on me.

———

My mother taught me about religion.
“You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”

My mother taught me about time travel.
“If you don’t straighten up, I’m going to knock you into the middle of next week!”

My mother taught me logic.
“Because I said so, that’s why.”

My mother taught me foresight.
“Be sure to wear clean underwear, in case you’re in an accident.”

My mother taught me about irony.
“Stop crying, or I’ll give you something to cry about.”

My mother taught me about osmosis.
“Shut your mouth and eat your supper!”

My mother taught me consideration.
“Go outside if you’re going kill each other. I just finished cleaning.”

My mother taught me about contortionism.
“Just look at the dirt on the back of your neck!”

My mother taught me about hyperbole.
“If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, don’t exaggerate!”

My mother taught me about anticipation.
“Just you wait until we get home.”

My mother taught me about the circle of life.
“I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it!”

My mother taught me about stamina.
“You’ll sit there until every bite of that spinach is gone.”

My mother taught me about the weather.
“It looks like a tornado swept through your room!”

My mother taught me about injustice.
“Think about the millions of children in the world who are less fortunate than you.”

My mother taught me about inevitability.
“When your father gets home, you’re really gonna get it!”

My mother taught me about physiology.
“Stop crossing your eyes. They’ll get stuck that way.”

My mother taught me to think ahead.
“If you don’t pass your spelling test, you’ll never get a good job.”

My mother taught me about ESP.
“Put on your sweater. I can tell when you’re cold.”

My mother taught me black humor.
“When that lawnmower cuts off your foot, don’t come running to me.”

My mother taught me how to become an adult.
“Eat your vegetables, or you won’t grow up.”

My mother taught me about genetics.
“You’re just like your father.”

My mother taught me about my roots.
“Do you think you were born in a barn?”

My mother taught me about wisdom.
“When you get to be my age, you’ll understand.”

My mother taught me about justice.
“Someday, you’ll have kids, and they’ll turn out just like you!”

Momzilla

 

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More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

● The Washington Monument, built between 1848 and 1885, is 555 feet tall and consists of 36,000 marble blocks weighing a total of 82,000 tons. The walls range from 15 feet thick at the base to 18 inches thick at the top. No mortar was used in the construction; the marble blocks are held in place by friction and gravity.

● The luxury jeweler Tiffany & Co. provides the trophies for the NFL Super Bowl Championship, the U.S. Open Tennis Championship, several NASCAR races, the Indy 500, and a bunch of other events.

The capital of the Republic of Korea (aka South Korea) is the “Seoul Special Metropolitan City” (aka Seoul). In the Korean language, the word seo’ul means “capital city.”

Commercially pre-sliced bread went on sale for the first time on July 7, 1928, at a bakery in Chillicothe, Missouri. Otto Rohwedder of St. Louis invented the machine that sliced and wrapped the loaves. That device is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

Sliced white bread, 2006.

● The familiar piano song “Chopsticks” was written in 1877 by Euphemia Allen, a 16-year-old English girl (who published it under a male pseudonym). The original title was “The Celebrated Chop Waltz.” Euphemia’s intent was for the hands to strike the piano keys like a cleaver chopping meat. Over time, the word chop evolved to chopsticks in popular usage, but the song has no connection to actual chopsticks.

● In April 1861, one day after Virginia seceded from the Union, President Lincoln offered command of the Union Army to a highly-regarded, 25-year military veteran, Col. Robert E. Lee. Lee instead resigned his Union commission and took command of Virginia’s military forces.

Had Lee accepted Lincoln’s offer, or simply retired and gone home, he would have deprived the Confederacy of a crackerjack commander. The union may well have defeated the South quickly and decisively, reaching the same outcome with a mere fraction of the death, destruction, misery, and animus that ensued. I’m just sayin’.

● Depicting data in a pie chart is a common practice everywhere, but “pie chart” is an English term. In France, it’s called a “Camembert,” which is a round cheese typically cut in wedges. In Germany, a pie chart is a “tortendiagram” — a diagram shaped like a torte or cake.

● Rhinopithecus strykeri, the “Burmese sneezing monkey,” is an endangered primate discovered a few years ago in Myanmar. The species is unique for its wide, upturned nostrils. Natives report that water easily gets in the monkeys’ nostrils during a rain, and they can be heard sneezing. The monkeys are said to spend rainy days sitting quietly with their heads tipped forward.

Burmese Sneezing Monkey

● Vaseline Petroleum Jelly was patented in 1872 by Robert Chesebrough of Brooklyn, New York. Chesebrough had visited an oil field in Pennsylvania in 1859 and learned about a waxy substance that built up on the pumps and had to be removed periodically. Workers often used the stuff to soothe cuts and abrasions.

Chesebrough took samples home and spent the next decade perfecting the product. His company manufactured Vaseline until 1987, when Unilever bought the rights.

● Over the years, a surprising number of animals have been rocketed into space, usually to test whether they could survive the conditions. Some did, some didn’t. Among the animals: fruit flies, dogs, monkeys, chimps, mice, rats, rabbits, turtles, frogs, mealworms, insects, spiders, amoebae, fish, jellyfish, and one cat.

The cat was Félicette, a stray found on the streets of Paris and sent into space by France in 1963. After a 15-minute sub-orbital flight, Félicette’s capsule parachuted back to Earth, and she was recovered safely.

● The continental U.S. and mainland China are roughly the same size, both being about 3,000 miles wide. Geographically, that covers four time zones in the U.S., and five in China. However, in 1949, the Communist Party switched the entire country to Beijing Standard Time. In addition to having just one time zone, China also ignores daylight savings time.

● In 1782, General George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit to be given to soldiers who exhibited gallantry in battle or performed an essential service. It was the first award meant to recognize ordinary soldiers instead of glorifying their superiors.

The award was given three times during the Revolutionary War, but it fell out of use thereafter. In the 1930s, the War Department revived it as the Purple Heart Medal. It was given retroactively to all living veterans of previous wars who had proof of being wounded.

Badge-Heart

 

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