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Posts Tagged ‘People’

A man’s life is interesting primarily when he has failed, I well know. It is a sign that he tried to surpass himself.

Georges Clemenceau

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Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless. Knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.

— Samuel Johnson

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.

— Seneca the Younger

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Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Clemenceau

Clemenceau

Emerson RW

Emerson

 

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Useless Facts

More “Useless Facts for Inquiring Minds.”

Why does aluminum foil have a dull side and a shiny side? Because the foil is milled two layers at a time, in contact with each other to prevent the sheets from breaking. The dull side is where the two layers were in contact, the shiny side is where they were not. Which side of the foil is facing in or out doesn’t matter; both sides perform the same.

In 1900, John Wesley Haynes founded Shamrock Knitting Mills in Winston, North Carolina. In 1901, his older brother Pleasant Henderson Haynes established P. H. Haynes Knitting Company in the same city. The two companies operated independently until they merged in 1965. Today, its trendy corporate name is HanesBrands, Inc.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was established in 1930 by Abdulaziz Al Saud, whose family finally subdued the other Bedouin tribes in the region. Abdulaziz died in 1953, and six of his sons in succession have reigned as king.

Humans have lived in what is now Saudi Arabia for 20,000 years, existing in isolation and obscurity with two exceptions: in the 7th Century, Islam arose there; and in the 20th Century, vast oil deposits were discovered, making the Al Saud family head-spinningly rich and powerful.

The party game Twister, in which people become the playing pieces on a plastic mat, was introduced in 1966. Sales were poor until the Milton Bradley PR people arranged for Johnny Carson to demonstrate Twister on the Tonight Show. The next day, demand skyrocketed.

Twister was named “Game of the Year” in 1967. In 2015, it was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame.

twister

The Hundred Years’ War (England vs. France) began on May 24, 1337, and ended on October 19, 1453 — which is 116 years, four months, three weeks, and four days.

France won. As a result, England had to give up all claims to land on the continent. Civil war erupted in England over who was to blame and, of course, who would control the throne.

That civil war was the War of the Roses, which lasted from May 22, 1455, until June 16, 1487 — which is 32 years, three weeks, and four days.

The last Hollywood movie to be released in VHS format was A History of Violence in 2006.

The breakfast cereal Wheaties dates back to 1921. In 1927, General Mills adopted the slogan “Wheaties — The Breakfast of Champions” to link its marketing to sports figures. The first athlete pictured on a Wheaties box was Lou Gehrig of the New York Yankees in 1934.

For years, the photos were printed on the back or a side panel of the box. Not until the 1950s did the photos appear on the front of the carton.

The first cartoon series made specifically for television was Crusader Rabbit in 1950. The program aired for two years in black and white and was revived from 1956 to 1959 in color. One of the creators was Jay Ward, who went on to produce the Rocky and Bullwinkle animated series.

crusaderrabbit

The father of Matt Groening, creator of “The Simpsons,” is Homer Groening, usually thought to be the namesake of Homer Simpson. However, Matt claims Homer is named for a character in “The Day of the Locust,” a 1939 novel by Nathanael West. The Homer Simpson in the novel is a slow-witted Iowa accountant who moved to California for health reasons.

The White Sands region in southern New Mexico, 275 square miles of which is protected as White Sands National Monument, is the world’s largest deposit of sand dunes composed of gypsum crystals.

Gypsum is water-soluble, and in most places, it is dissolved by rain and washed downstream to the sea. However, the White Sands formation is located in the Tularosa Basin, which has no outlets. Thus, the rainwater evaporates, perpetually leaving the gypsum deposits behind.

The paint that covers the exterior of the White House in Washington is “Whisper White” exterior paint by Duron. When the White House was renovated in 1992, 32 layers of old paint were removed. The repainting required 570 gallons of Whisper White.

Gene Simmons, co-founder of the rock group Kiss, was born Chaim Witz in 1949 in Haifa, Israel. His parents divorced when he was eight, and his mother took him to New York City, where he changed his name to Eugene Klein, Klein being his mother’s maiden name.

The other original members of Kiss are Paul Stanley (real name Stanley Bert Eisen), Peter Criss (George Peter John Criscuola), and Ace Frehley (Paul Daniel Frehley).

kiss

 

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The Questions…

1. In 1892, English writer Rudyard Kipling married an American woman and settled in Vermont, where he introduced a new sport to America. What was it?

2. What is the unusual connection between Napoleon Bonaparte, who died in 1821, and the FBI, which was formed a century later?

3. What is a flexitarian?

4. What, exactly, is a Mexican jumping bean?

5. In 1910, Nathaniel Baldwin got tired of not being able to hear the sermons inside Salt Lake City’s Mormon Tabernacle, a cavernous place that seats 7,000. What did Baldwin do about it?

The Answers…

1. Snow golf, which was a popular winter pastime in Europe. Kipling, an avid golfer, reportedly came up with the idea of using red golf balls and red cups for better visibility in the snow.

2. Charles Bonaparte, Napoleon’s great-nephew, served as Attorney General under President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1909, Charles formed a unit of special agents within the Justice Department that evolved into the FBI.

3. A flexitarian is a “flexible vegetarian” who isn’t above eating meat on occasion.

4. A seed pod from a mountain shrub that is inhabited by a moth larva. When the bean is warmed (e.g., in the hand), the larva spasms, trying to avoid the heat, and the bean jumps. If the bean has a hole in it, the larva has gone forth into the world.

5. Baldwin, an electrical engineer, invented headphones. His device consisted of a compressed-air amplifier, two receivers (the earpieces), and a connecting headband.

snow golf

baldwin headphones

 

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He, who will not reason, is a bigot; he, who cannot, is a fool; and he, who dares not, is a slave.

— Sir William Drummond

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Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.

Blaise Pascal

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They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

— Carl W. Buehner

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Patriotism is being proud of a country’s virtues and eager to correct its deficiencies; it also acknowledges the legitimate patriotism of other countries, with their own specific virtues. The pride of nationalism, however, trumpets its country’s virtues and denies its deficiencies, while it is contemptuous toward the virtues of other countries. It wants to be, and proclaims itself to be, “the greatest,” but greatness is not required of a country; only goodness is.

— Sydney J. Harris

Drummond W

Drummond

Harris SJ

Harris

 

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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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Tune o’ the Day

In the closing scene of the 1984 John Hughes movie “Sixteen Candles,” Jake and Samantha are together at last in a fairy-tale ending. And one of the reasons that schmaltzy scene worked so well was “If You Were Here” by the Thompson Twins” playing in the background.

Technically, “If You Were Here” was all wrong for the situation. It’s no happy love song. It’s about a guy who wants out of a bad relationship.

Maybe Hughes ignored the disconnect because the song sounds so good. Lyrics? What lyrics? Or maybe he rationalized that the song refers to Jake’s fizzled relationship with the school prom queen.

Yeah, the second one. That’s probably it.

Thompson Twins

If You Were Here

By The Thompson Twins
Written by Tom Bailey, Alannah Joy Currie, and Joe Leeway.

If you were here,
I could deceive you.
And if you were here,
You would believe.
But would you suspect
My emotion wandering, yeah.
Do not want a part of this anymore.

The rain water drips
Through a crack in the ceiling.
I’ll have to spend
My time on repair.
But just like the rain,
I’ll be always falling, yeah,
Only to rise and fall again.

If you were here,
I could deceive you.
And if you were here,
You would believe.
But would you suspect
My emotion wandering, yeah.
Do not want a part of this anymore.

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The Questions…

1. A full-size replica of the Santa Maria, the flagship of Christopher Columbus, is located in what American city?

2. Who was the first U.S. president to be born in a hospital?

3. How did celebrity chef Paula Deen get her start in the food business?

4. In the early 1700s, King George I of England decreed that all pigeon droppings in the realm were the property of the Crown. Why?

5. In the 1966 TV series Batman, the role of the Penguin was first offered to Spencer Tracy. However, Tracy made a demand that the producers found unacceptable, and Burgess Meredith got the part. What did Tracy want that scuttled the deal?

The Answers…

1. In Columbus, Ohio, of course. The replica was built in 1992 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the first voyage of Columbus.

2. Jimmy Carter. He was born in 1924 at the Wise Sanitarium in Plains, Georgia, where his mother Lillian worked as a nurse.

3. In 1989, she started a catering business from her Savannah home called The Bag Lady. She prepared bagged lunches that her sons delivered to local businesses.

4. In those days, pigeon droppings and bat guano were the only known sources of potassium nitrate, a key ingredient of gunpowder. The poop was a highly prized commodity until the early 1800s, when natural deposits of potassium nitrate were discovered in Chili and Peru.

5. Tracy wanted the Penguin to kill Batman.

Santa Maria

Penguin2

 

 

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