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304127.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:42 am Reply with quote

Damn. Yes, I must hold my hands up to that one. "Mum" just looks and sounds a bit odd to me, so I shall choose to go with "mother".

(I'm trying to stop spelling in British Columbian, on the basis that I really will need to spell in English when I become a school teacher in September.)

319056.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:21 am Reply with quote

It appears that I never posted this:

What is your lot in life if your brother or sister is a genius?

Adelphoi - Brothers of Jesus

The New Testament contains several references to Jesus's brothers and sisters, the most explicit of which is Matthew 13:55-56, in which the neighbors wonder where Jesus gets off with all this preaching: "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?"

The words in the Greek original are adelphoi, brothers, and adelphi, sisters. They can be used in a metaphorical, brotherhood-of-man sense, just like their English equivalents. The Catholic take, however, is that the words have yet another meaning: cousins, or perhaps Joseph's children by a previous marriage.

Branwell Bronte

The bother of the Brontë sisters declined into chronic alcoholism, opiates, and debt after an affair with the wife of portrait painter William Robinson who, after the death of her husband, had no intention of marrying him. HE was actually a very talented writer in his own right, the family felt much embarrassment over his lack of success.

Billy Carter

13 years younger than US President Jimmy, Billy was "mad as hell" after the death of his father when Jimmy, who had been away in the navy since Billy was six, returned and took over the family business.

Later, while his brother was busy running the country, Billy hit the talk-show circuit, cracking one-liners and promoting his own homebrew, Billy Beer. He also allegedly smoked marijuana on the White House roof

In September 1978 Billy went to Libya. In what was known as “Billy Gate”, he admitted to receiving a $220,000 loan from the Libyan government which, it was claimed, bought influence with the White House.

Roger Clinton

Spent more than a year in jail due to drink-driving. One of the last thing his brother Bill did before leaving the presidency was to issue his brother with a pardon.

Gummo Marx

Originally one of the Marx Brothers, Gummo stopped performing with the boys before they became stars on Broadway. He went into the army then went into business selling dresses and cloth before becoming an agent. Gummo held a patent for a laundry box he invented. He claimed that the product failed because of rising cardboard prices.

Tarek Bin Laden

Osama bin Laden's half-brother, who has a construction company in Saudi Arabia, is planning to build the world's second longest bridge to connect Africa and Arabia – between Djibouti and Yemen

Robert & Ludwig Nobel

Brothers of Alfred, they the Nobel Brothers' Petroleum Company in Baku, Azerbaijan. They were responsible for the Capitalist Oil Boom in Pre-Communist Russia and their money helped their younger brother to established the Nobel Prize.

Frederick Dickens

Charles' brother who lived and was buried in Darlington, would use his brother's name to gain credit when in debt. He was impisoned and died an alcoholic.

Augustus Dickens

Augustus gave Charles his nickname "Boz". It came from the nickname Dickens gave his younger brother Augustus -- Moses. As a child, Augustus pronounced the name "Boses," which was ultimately shortened to "Boz." In 1858, Augustus abandoned his wife, who had gone blind, to run away to America with another woman, finally settling in Chicago. As a clerk in Chicago, he was noted for his intemperance.

Edmund Shakespeare

Actor. Most famous today for having a very lavish funeral, paid for by his brother.

Leicester Hemingway

Most famous for writing a posthumous biography of his brother Ernest, but should perhaps be more famous for the founding of his own island nation, the Republic of New Atlantis. Which consisted of an 8 x 30-foot bamboo raft anchored to an old Ford engine block in 50 feet of water eight miles southwest of Jamaica.

Joseph Bonaparte

One of a number of pretty rubbish bonapartes, Napoleon made him king of Naples; he did the job very inefficiently and was made king of spain instead.

319057.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 4:22 am Reply with quote

Anyway, I noticed that this was missing because I wanted to post the fact that Wild Bill Hickok had a brother Lorenzo who was known as "Tame Bill Hickok".

319148.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 5:58 am Reply with quote

That's nice. Hickock's wife sounds a bit like Molly:
Hickok met his true and only wife while Marshal of Abilene. She had come there with her traveling circus show. Agnes Thatcher Lake was a truly remarkable woman. She was a world renowned horsewoman, tightrope walker, dancer, sometime actress, lion tamer, and could speak several languages! Her first husband, William Thatcher Lake later just known as Bill Lake, was a circus clown.

except for the bit about being married to a clown.

319173.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:20 am Reply with quote

If we're talking about high-achieving siblings, what about the Huxleys? You've got Aldous (rather famous novelist), his brother Julian (First Director-General of UNESCO, Secretary of Zoological Society and co-founder of the World Wildlife Fund.), and their step-brother Andrew (winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine).

All three of course were grandsons of Thomas Henry Huxley, known as Darwin's Bulldog for his work defending the theory of evolution and credited with inventing the term "agnostic."

319365.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 1:27 pm Reply with quote

The Darwin-Wedgwood family is pretty spectacular too. See

336763.  Thu May 15, 2008 4:53 am Reply with quote

Chaupar is an indian board game, it's a bit like chess, only you just use pawns and it uses dice. 16th century Indian Emperor, Akbar I, had enormous boards made, and used 16 beautiful women as his pieces.

I say "dice", actually it's traditionally played with six cowrie shells that are rolled: the number that land upright determining how many spaces one can move.

s: Childhood Museum

336768.  Thu May 15, 2008 4:56 am Reply with quote

The game is similar to parchisi - pronounced "Par-cheesy" which is the national game of India. Actually, both games are probably closer to ludo than chess.

s: Childhood museum.

336782.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:14 am Reply with quote

In the 1960s, Slot car racing (that I would probably call Scalextric) was so popular in the US that live tournaments were regularly shown on Live television. The Ed Sullivan show hosted a national high-stakes race featuring Stirling Moss, Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart.

Childhood Museum

(the Ed Sullivan show was one of the top ten shows in the US for a long time I think - this is very much outside my area of expertise - but I'd love to know what the figures were like when compared to other sporting events)

Elvis Presley had a room at Graceland totally devoted to slot cars.

In 1968, there were more "slot car" facilities than there were bowling alleys - there is now not a single one (apparantly).

There's probably a case for saying that it was one of the most common hobbies in the US in the mid-sixties.

The best slot-car racers in the world are now the Czechs (not sure why) they have 6 people in the world top 10 rankings, including Vladimir Horky and Petr Krcil, the current number one and two respectively.

There are international rules and everything:

Accidental crash on the straight in front of the drivers, caused by a driver's hand or a car in hand, or a touch of another driver’s car by a pit crew member while removing or replacing a car in the pit zone: 10 laps.

336791.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:21 am Reply with quote

The invention of Space Invaders led to a national shortage of coins in Japan.

s: Childhood museum

336795.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:23 am Reply with quote

The Bronte sisters' work owes an awful lot to a world of Imaginary friends that they created as children. Agatha Christie and CS Lewis also had imaginary friends.

s: Childhood Museum

336803.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:27 am Reply with quote

Question: What is this?

Forfeit: A russian doll

Answer: A Japanese doll.

...apart from the fact that that particular one was made in Russia, so maybe if we can find one made in Taiwan or something.

Anyway, according to the Childhood Museum (can you guess where I was on Tuesday morning) Matryoshka dolls originated in Japan.

336811.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:32 am Reply with quote

"Spirograph" was invented in 1962 by British engineer Denys Fisher during his research on a new design for bomb detonators for NATO.

Apparantly he was doing some quite compicated maths, the spirograph is a geometric manifestation of said maths (perhaps Will can elucidate).

The idea behind spirographs is used to make the patterns on banknotes around the world. They're called Guilloché patterns. The patterns were also used to decorate fabergé eggs.

s: Childhood museum (lots of maths here)

336813.  Thu May 15, 2008 5:37 am Reply with quote

The "hop rod" was a gas-powered pogo stick - it is no longer available (for obvious reasons). When you landed, the force would push the piston into the cylinder, compressing the fuel and firing a sparkplug, launching the stick (and its jockey) into the air.

It was invented by Gordon Spitzmesser and patented in 1960.

Due a number of accidents when the hotrod landed on a non-level surface, the toy was banned in the 1970s.

Soviet aviation scientists used a similar approach in the late 1980s when they developed piston-driven, gas-powered boots to enable soldiers to take 13-foot strides and run at 25 miles an hour.

s: Chidhood museum

337003.  Thu May 15, 2008 10:09 am Reply with quote

A couple of facts via e-mail from the British Slot Car Racing Association:

Slot racing is still active with club racing throughout the country, national and international racing, although it doesn't have the public profile it had in the 1960s. The World Championships are coming to the UK for the first time in over a decade in October 2008.

Looking at the very fastest slot cars, the world record for a 155ft lap length "Blue king" track is 1.404 seconds an average of just over 75mph.


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