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Posts Tagged ‘Miscellaneous’

DEVONSHIRE, ENGLAND — The Aetherius Society, an organization of ding-a-lings who believe Jesus was an extraterrestrial from Venus, is planning a pilgrimage to the site where the group’s late founder claimed he saw Jesus arrive on Earth by spaceship in 1958.

The pilgrimage is set for July at Holdstone Down, a mountain where former taxi driver George King says he watched the spaceship land. King said Jesus was one of several Cosmic Masters, including Buddha and Confucius, who came to Earth to help mankind.

The Aetherius Society proclaims that its “philosophy and teachings come largely from highly advanced intelligences from the higher planes of Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn.”

King G

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA — City crews have removed more than 3,600 tons of trash from a five-block stretch of clogged storm drains along St. Charles Avenue. The haul included 46 tons of carnival beads, a Mardi Gras staple.

At the news conference, a spokesman said the city is considering a plan to install temporary “gutter buddies” during Mardi Gras to stop the beads from washing into the storm drains.

The removal was part of a project that began in 2017 after an August storm dumped six inches of rain on the city, flooding streets and underpasses and angering the citizenry. Officials said the four-month project cleared 15,000 of the city’s storm drains, leaving 43,000 to go.

Mardi Gras

PETERHEAD, SCOTLAND — In February, six police cars and an armed response team went into action after a local man reported finding a tiger crouched inside his cow shed.

I got a hell of a scare,” farmer Bruce Grubb told police as they took defensive positions around the building. During the standoff, officers contacted a nearby wildlife park and were told that no tigers were missing.

After 45 minutes, an officer drove his vehicle close enough to the shed to see inside. He found that the tiger was in fact a large stuffed animal.

The relieved responders emphasized that Grubb was sincere, not a prankster, but how the toy tiger got in the shed is unclear.

Grubb gave the stuffed tiger to the officers to keep as a mascot.

Toy tiger

 

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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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Pass

Want-fear

Obey

Eschew

 

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TAMPA, FLORIDA — A Tampa contractor claims in a lawsuit that he entered a condominium to conduct a fire safety inspection and was attacked by a bobcat.

The contractor claims that the bobcat was illegally-kept and unrestrained and inflicted permanent injuries. He asks for a jury trial and unspecified damages.

According to the condo owner, the contractor entered the apartment illegally because he wasn’t accompanied by a building employee as the bylaws require. Furthermore, she said she owns a small domestic longhair cat, not a bobcat.

A Florida wildlife official went to the condo and was introduced to Calli, a 10-pound housecat with a tortoise-shell-colored coat. The official’s report concluded that Calli is not a bobcat, inasmuch as bobcats are larger animals with light-colored, spotted coats, tufted ears, and bobbed tails.

The contractor’s attorney declined to comment.

Calli

MINOT, NORTH DAKOTA — Employees at a Hobby Lobby store called 911 last month to report that a white male was fleeing the store pushing a shopping cart loaded with stolen merchandise.

When police arrived, they found the shopping cart in the parking lot, lying on its side in deep snow. It contained about $4,000 worth of stolen items. Employees said the man tripped and fell, the cart overturned, and he fled on foot.

While inspecting the scene, officers found a wallet that contained photo identification and an address. A 22-year-old man who resided there was arrested on felony shoplifting charges.

Shoplifter

BOWMANSTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA — As family members watched in horror, their small pet dog was snatched from the back yard and carried away by an eagle.

Zoey, an eight-pound Bichon Frise, was playing in the yard when the eagle swooped down, grabbed her in its talons, and soared away. The distraught owners began a fruitless search of the area.

About two hours later and four miles away, a woman found a dazed Zoey lying on the ground and took her home. After reading a Facebook post about the incident, the woman returned Zoey to her family.

Zoey has a slight limp, but apparently was otherwise unharmed, although the owners say she is hesitant to leave the house. No one knows how she escaped from the eagle.

Zoey

 

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decalninja_colortemplate

Always

Adults

Deport

 

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The late William Safire was a New York Times columnist and Nixon speechwriter who called himself a “libertarian conservative.” Clearly, Safire was not on my wavelength, because I think libertarians are naive and conservatives are selfish and mean.

But we were sympatico in one respect. In spite of Safire’s noxious politics, he was an expert wordsmith and devoted etymologist. I like that in a person.

From 1979 until his death, Safire wrote the weekly column “On Language” in the New York Times Magazine. During those 30 years, he wrote over 1300 columns about words, word origins, meanings, usage, and the evolution of language.

In particular, Safire is known for his list of “fumblerules.” He defined a fumblerule as a rule of language, humorously written in a way that breaks the rule itself. A masterful way to make the point with clarity.

Here is a list of Safire’s fumblerules. Some were published in his weekly column, others in his book “Fumblerules: A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage.”

———

1. Remember to never split an infinitive.

2. A preposition is something never to end a sentence with.

3. The passive voice should never be used.

4. Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.

5. Don’t use no double negatives.

6. Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn’t.

7. Reserve the apostrophe for it’s proper use and omit it when its not needed.

8. Do not put statements in the negative form.

9. Verbs have to agree with their subjects.

10. No sentence fragments.

11. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.

12. Avoid commas, that are not necessary.

13. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.

14. A writer must not shift your point of view.

15. Eschew dialect, irregardless.

16. And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.

17. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!

18. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.

19. Always hyphenate between syllables and avoid un-necessary hy-

phens.

20. Write all adverbial forms correct.

21. Don’t use contractions in formal writing.

22. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

23. It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.

24. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.

25. Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.

26. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.

27. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

28. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.

29. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.

30. If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.

31. Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.

32. Don’t string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.

33. Always pick on the correct idiom.

34. “Avoid overuse of ‘quotation “marks.”‘”

35. The adverb always follows the verb.

36. Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague; they’re old hat; seek viable alternatives.

37. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.

38. Employ the vernacular.

39. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

40. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

41. Contractions aren’t necessary.

42. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.

43. One should never generalize.

44. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.”

45. Comparisons are as bad as clichés.

46. Don’t be redundant; don’t use more words than necessary; it’s highly superfluous.

47. Be more or less specific.

48. Understatement is always best.

49. One-word sentences? Eliminate.

50. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

51. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

52. Who needs rhetorical questions?

53. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

54. capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with a point

Safire W

William Lewis Safire (1929-2009)

 

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Useless Facts

— In 1804, when President Thomas Jefferson dispatched the Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the Louisiana Purchase, he instructed the men to be on the lookout for woolly mammoths and giant ground sloths. In Jefferson’s day, extinction was a fuzzy concept.

— The television network C-SPAN was created in 1979 by the cable TV industry as a public service. C-SPAN is an acronym for Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network.

— Eric Clapton is the only musician elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame three times. He was inducted in 1992 as a member of The Yardbirds, in 1993 as a member of Cream, and in 2000 as a solo performer.

— The resting heart rate of a hummingbird is about 250 beats per minute. (In adult humans, the rate is 75-80 beats per minute.) When a hummingbird is in flight, the rate can increase to 1,200 beats per minute.

Hummingbird wings do not flap. They rotate in a full circle, at up to 70 rotations per second.

Hummingbird

The French equivalent of the acronym “LOL” (laughing out loud) is “MDR,” which means “mort de rire” (dying of laughter).

— The British Museum in London, usually considered the largest and most comprehensive in the world, houses a vast collection that documents the entirety of human culture. Over 230 million objects are preserved by the institution, and its website hosts the world’s largest online museum database.

— In 1957, two business partners in New Jersey tried to develop a new type of wallpaper by sealing two shower curtains together. The idea proved impractical, but the material they created was ideal for protecting products in shipment. Their company still manufactures a wide range of Bubble Wrap® products today.

— The first known e-commerce transaction, in which an online buyer used a credit card protected by encryption technology, occurred on August 11, 1994. On that date, the website NetMarket, operated by a 21-year-old entrepreneur from New Hampshire, sold a Sting CD to a buyer in Philadelphia for $12.48 plus shipping.

Sting CD

— Between 1964 and 1966, The Beatles visited the U.S. four times and performed 56 live concerts. At each concert, the band’s legal contract stipulated that they would not perform before a racially segregated audience.

— Sixteen percent of the population suffers from trypophobia, the fear of clusters of irregular holes, such as those found in sponges and honeycombs.

— The record for the world’s tallest known man is held by Robert Wadlow (1918-1940) of Alton, Illinois. His height was verified as 8 feet, 11.1 inches. The title of the world’s tallest known woman is held by Zeng Jinlian (1964-1982) of Hunan, China. She was 8 feet, 1.75 inches tall.

— The scarlet jellyfish, a small species found in the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, has the unique ability to rejuvenate itself rather than die. When old, sick, or stressed, it can revert to its polyp stage and basically start its life over. Theoretically, this process can go on indefinitely, making the animal biologically immortal. In nature, however, they eventually succumb to disease or predation.

Scarlet jellyfish

 

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