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eggshaped
22338.  Wed Jul 20, 2005 10:23 am Reply with quote

Quote:
As a result the family had to pay inheritance tax twice.


However, sometimes death can be used for profitable means.

According to Suetonius (I often find myself starting Roman stories with “according to”, how reliable are these ancient commentators? On another thread Dr Bob says they had “a vested interest in making non-Roman civilisations appear barbaric” – can we take any of it as reliable?).

Sorry, where was I?

According to Suetonius, the poet Virgil (he of the Aenid) once held an elaborate funeral for his pet fly. This was a particularly elaborate funeral with pall-bearers, speeches and everything, some sources say that Virgil spent today’s equivalent of over £50,000.

The alleged reason for this funeral was that by burying his fly on his land, he could declare it a mausoleum, and as such, it would be exempt from land-tax.


Must've been a lot of tax he was going to pay, to make it worth shelling out £50K

 
Flash
22339.  Wed Jul 20, 2005 1:02 pm Reply with quote

I like the tax dodge idea. D for "dodge"?

Re the Komodos, you're right, and I'm glad you put me straight on this because it seems I've been misleading people in pubs for the past 15 years. The Wikipedia entry says that there about 6,000 of the blighters and that they live in various islands in the Lesser Sunda - more of them on Flores (2,000) than on Komodo (1,700), apparently. Also, the only animal which is immune to the poisonous bite of the Komodo Dragon is ... the Komodo Dragon. Nevertheless, most baby Komodos are eaten ... by Komodos.

Anyway, the one I patted on the head was on Komodo island, and might still be alive for all I know - they live to 30 years.

 
eggshaped
22342.  Thu Jul 21, 2005 2:54 am Reply with quote

I suppose that D for Death is a bit high in the morbidity stakes.

As for the komodo, I also read that about:

Quote:
the only animal which is immune to the poisonous bite of the Komodo Dragon is ... the Komodo Dragon


It struck me that this must be a good place for immunologists to do some research, after all, there must be something in the dragon's body which protects it from E. Coli.

...now all we need is someone with experience of getting close to these animals...

 
eggshaped
22344.  Thu Jul 21, 2005 6:23 am Reply with quote

James Doohan who played Scottie in Star Trek has sadly died, aged 85. He was the one responsible for the Klingon language.

But did you know that he was part of the D Day landings, landing on Juno beach. He was hit eight times in the raid, and as a result one of his fingers had to be amputated. A stunt hand was often employed when required on the show.

Here's a couple of obit.s
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1493093.stm
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,60-1701993,00.html

 
Jenny
22346.  Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:01 am Reply with quote

Eggshaped - according to Wikipedia, the author of the Klingon language was a Dr Marc Okrand.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klingon_language

Wiki also carries the nice snippet that a Dr. d'Armond Speers (a doctor of what, it doesn't say) began to raise a child bilingually in English and Klingon; it was decided that Dr. Speers would speak in Klingon and that his wife would speak in English. After a few years, the child rejected Klingon because so few people spoke it and the language lacked many common words.

Wiki also says:

Quote:
In May 2003, the Multnomah County, Oregon Department of Human Services named Klingon on a list of 55 languages for which it might conceivably need interpreters; this story was circulated out-of-context as an urban legend claiming that the department was looking to hire a Klingon interpreter. County Chair Diane Linn called the listing the "result of an overzealous attempt to ensure that our safety net systems can respond to all customers and clients."


Maybe this should all have gone under 'Cults'?!

 
eggshaped
22347.  Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:12 am Reply with quote

Hmm, well the Times link I posted above says this:

Quote:
He is also credited with devising the Klingon language that featured in that film. Although Klingon was later refined by Marc Okrand, Doohan can be credited with formulating the world’s most popular artificial language — Shakespeare and parts of the Bible have been translated into it.


Normally I'd sway towards the Times as a better source, but I can't imagine any incorrect star-trek facts could last long on wikipedia without being corrected!

I don't think I have ever watched an episode of Star Trek all the way through though, so I'm happy to bow to anyone who is more of an expert.

 
Flash
22390.  Sat Jul 23, 2005 7:12 pm Reply with quote

I didn't know this till just now: the Portugese man'o'war isn't a jellyfish: it's a siphonophore — a colony of four sorts of polyps. Is that news to anybody else?

 
Gray
22392.  Sun Jul 24, 2005 5:15 am Reply with quote

By a strange coincidence, I've just been reading a very interesting book about symbiotic organisms (The Symbiotic Planet by the brilliant Lynn Margulis). She suggests, verycleverly, that natural selection isn't solely a function of sex and random mutation, but also an adaptational response to living in very close proximity to other organisms. Then the advantages of adapting symbiotic behaviour start to form a completely novel evolutionary pressure.

I did know about the PMoW, and there are lots of other fascinating creatures that operate in this way. Coral is the classic example - it exhibits 'polytrophy' - meaning that it can feed in more than one way (or that it's good at breeding champion parrots). Coral consists of two organisms living in a symbiotic relationship: the actual coral polyp itself, and a unicellular algae which lives inside the coral tissues, allows them to function like plants, soaking up sunlight that penetrates down to the shallow reef. By day, the algae make food products by photosynthesis and pass on nutrients to the coral. At night, when photosynthesis ceases, coral tentacles armed with poisonous filaments capture food in the form of passing plankton.

Because of the way that it's thought life evolved, just about all organisms show signs of symbiotic development. In fact if you look inside our own bodies, there are millions and millions of different organisms that live alongside us. Even within the cells, mitochondria have their own DNA...

 
Jenny
22396.  Sun Jul 24, 2005 10:42 am Reply with quote

It was certainly news to me, Flash.

Gray - that sounds like a very interesting book.

 
JumpingJack
22398.  Sun Jul 24, 2005 12:05 pm Reply with quote

Lynn Margulis is wonderful.

Her books "What Is Life?" and "Five Kingdoms" were key drivers at the start of QI.

I didn't know she was married to Carl Sagan, though, or that she was into Gaia theory, both of which make her all the more admirable.

 
eggshaped
22403.  Mon Jul 25, 2005 6:19 am Reply with quote

Yes, I knew that as well Flash.

Fish. Brain food?
Louis Agassiz was a Swiss zoologist and geologist who was the first to scientifically propose that the Earth had been subject to a past ice age. He was professor of zoology and geology at Harvard, has a crater on Mars named after him, and Lake Agassiz (also obviously named after him) is the name given to an enormous lake which covered much of the US 10,000 years ago.

However, he also was an evolution nay-sayer, and has left a questionable legacy to mothers of the world, for it was he who postulated that fish is brain-food.

In the mid 19th Century it was discovered that the human brain contained phosphorus-containing compounds. A number of people picked up on this: in fact one German philosopher said "Without phosphorus, there is no thought”. It was also discovered around this time, by Jean Dumas, that fish contained a large amount of the mineral - Agassiz took these facts and reasoned that eating more fish might help ones mental and cognitive abilities; for generations to come it was taken as fact that eating fish was good for your brain.

It was since proved however that this was a myth. The human body doesn't metabolize excess amounts of phosphorus, and it certainly doesn’t store it up to make you more brainy. So the Swiss creationist was wrong. Fish is good for you, but as for it being brain-food? Complete bunk.

Or was it? It seems that in a round about way, Agassiz was right after all. Recent studies are showing that the famous Omega-3 fats that are found in oily fish may have considerable effects on the brain. Some trials have shown that the fat can be helpful in the management of depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and that a deficiency can cause behavioural and learning abnormalities.

In fact a study in Durham at the moment is expected to give statistically significant improvement in school performance in the group of children given Omega 3 supplements.

So the moral of the story?

Listen to your mother, eat fish and get brainy.

http://www.dpi.state.wi.us/dpi/dfm/fns/doc/weboct_03.doc
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Agassiz
http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/history/agassiz.html
http://www.fabresearch.org/view_item.aspx?item_id=593
http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/articles/intelligenceandmemory/omega_three.shtml

 
eggshaped
22404.  Mon Jul 25, 2005 8:17 am Reply with quote

In 1988 the amount of territory belonging to the US increased by over 125,000 square miles.

Before the 1980s the amount of sea around a country's coastline which was part of that country was generally accepted to be 3 nautical miles. This figure was decided towards the close of the 18th century as the maximum range of cannon fire.

However, what with spying and the cold war, that began to change and in 1988, Ronald Reagan signed the "Territorial Sea Proclamation" in which he increased the amount of territorial waters claimed by the US to 12 nautical miles, thus increasing the territory of the US by well over 125,000 square miles or an area the size of Norway.

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=33
http://20.1911encyclopedia.org/W/WA/WATERS_TERRITORIAL.htm
http://www.kreindler.com/news/briefs/twa800_brief.htm

 
Lord_Wilson
22412.  Mon Jul 25, 2005 2:20 pm Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:

So the moral of the story?

Listen to your mother, eat fish and get brainy.


And, I believe Brazil Nuts are very good brain food as well, I can vaguely ecall an item in the news a few years back around exam time that talked about Omega 3 oils and their effects on learning and the brain.

How reliable a source this is however is up for debate. Sadly, my brain (as any of my friends will tell you) is far from infalible...

 
dr.bob
22419.  Tue Jul 26, 2005 4:20 am Reply with quote

Watching the 10 Greatest Treasures program on Channel 5 last night (yeah, I know, I'm not proud), I learned that the head monk on Lindisfarne is called Brother Damian.

Interesting name, particularly in light of the Omen series of films :)

 
eggshaped
22423.  Tue Jul 26, 2005 5:31 am Reply with quote

According to this newsletter from Florida’s department of Education, the following are names that were considered by Walt Disney for the Seven Dwarfs.

Scrappy, Doleful, Crabby, Wistful, Dumpy, Soulful, Tearful, Snappy, Helpful, Gaspy, Gloomy, Busy, Dirty, Awful, Dizzy, Shifty, and Biggy-Wiggy.

http://www.state.fl.us/dbs/newsletter/accesstech/ATAug02.htm

 

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