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General Ignorance

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Jenny
5759.  Thu Feb 05, 2004 4:20 pm Reply with quote

Do you know the difference between a pier and a dock? I didn't. Apparently a pier is the bit that sticks out into the water, and a dock is the water next to the pier, which is why you can have a dry dock - a dock without water in it.

So here's a possible question: Play the refrain of Otis Redding's song 'Sitting on the Dock of the Bay' and ask how it's factually inaccurate.

 
Jenny
6707.  Sun Apr 04, 2004 8:33 pm Reply with quote

Once in a blue moon is a common way of saying not very often, but what exactly is a blue moon? Apparently, It is the second full moon to occur in a single calendar month.

The average interval between full moons is about 29.5 days, whilst the length of an average month is roughly 30.5 days. This makes it very unlikely that any given month will contain two full moons, though it does sometimes happen.

On average, there will be 41 months that have two full moons in every century, so you could say that once in a blue moon actually means once every two-and-a-half years.

However, not everybody agrees with this definition:

http://www.obliquity.com/astro/blue-st.html

 
Jenny
7847.  Mon Jul 12, 2004 10:33 am Reply with quote

Here's something I discovered courtesy of an American friend the other day, that I didn't know before. Who was the first American president?

Bet you thought it was George Washington, but it wasn't - remember, I didn't say 'President of the United States of America' but 'American president'.

http://uspresidency.com/chapter1/

There were, apparently, another ten Presidents of the Continental Congress before Washington was elected first President of the United States of America.

(Continental Congress Conveniently Commences with C, by the way)

Peyton Randolph 1st President of the Continental Congress of the United Colonies of America

Henry Middleton 2nd President of the Continental Congress of the United Colonies of America

John Hancock 1st President of the Continental Congress of the United States of America (and founder of the nickname for one's signature, but that's another story)

Henry Laurens 2nd President of the Continental Congress of the United States of America

John Jay 3rd President of the Continental Congress of the United States of America

Samuel Huntington 1st President of the United States in Congress Assembled

Thomas McKean 2nd President of the United States in Congress Assembled

John Hanson 3rd President of the United States in Congress Assembled

Elias Boudinot 4th President of the United States in Congress Assembled

Thomas Mifflin 5th President of the United States in Congress Assembled

Richard Henry Lee 6th President of the United States in Congress Assembled

Nathaniel Gorham 8th President of the United States in Congress Assembled

Arthur St. Clair 9th President of the United States in Congress Assembled

Cyrus Griffin 10th President of the United States in Congress Assembled

George Washington 11th President of the United States

 
Jenny
7968.  Fri Jul 30, 2004 8:45 am Reply with quote

We tend to use the phrase 'once in a blue moon' to mean 'rarely, if ever', but blue moons are more common than you think. A "blue moon" is just the second full moon in a calendar month and it isn't really blue.

However, there have been truly blue moons. In 1883, after the eruption of Krakatoa, minute particles of ash made the moon appear blue. The particles, only a micron wide, were exactly the right size to scatter red light and allow blue light to pass through. The eruptions of Mount St. Helens and Mount Pinatubo produced the same effects, and giant forest fires have also produced them.

For several years after these eruption, different sized particles filtered other colors and caused different effects, and there were reports from all over the world of red, green and blue moons. The other effect was to produce blazing red sunsets.

The origin of the phrase 'once in a blue moon' is fairly obscure. The phrase is old, even if the modern meaning is not. Shakespeare referred to it, and there were traditional rhymes like:

If they say the moon is blewe,
We must believe that it is true.

In the 19th-century the Maine Farmers' Almanac wrote that a blue moon occurred whenever a season had four full moons instead of three. It was common to give moons seasonal names during this time, so you had harvest moons, fruit moons, and egg moons, too.

In 1946, Sky & Telescope magazine published an article that misinterpreted the Maine almanac's seasonal definition, making the blue moon the second full moon in a month instead of the fourth full moon in a season and this became generally adopted. The 1986 Genus II edition of Trivial Pursuit told everybody that blue moons were the second full moon in a calendar month. They got their information from a 1985 children's book, Facts and Records, but its sources are unknown, though they might have included the magazine's mistaken report.

In 1999, the new definition was impressed on the public mind when there were two full moons in January and March and none at all in February. These were widely reported in the press and stuck even after Sky and Telescope magazine admitted their original error.

 
Frances
10468.  Fri Nov 12, 2004 5:15 am Reply with quote

When I was a smallish child, many years ago, I actually saw a blue moon - and a blue sun, if it comes to that. Some volcano had erupted, I believe. It must have been about 1948. Or maybe it was 1946, and it was in response to that that the article in the Sky and Telescope was written. I can't remember much about it, except walking to school in an eerie twilight that one of my friends said was the end of the world, and ghosts would be walking, but I told her that was silly, worlds didn't end.

 
laidbacklazyman
23873.  Thu Sep 08, 2005 2:22 am Reply with quote

Well trawling through the bits and bobs looking for questions for the quiz that's going to be on gadmp.co.uk and I come across this little nugget

Flash wrote:

Also, B for Buonaparte is often depicted with his hand tucked into his weskit - presumably that's just to keep it warm? Or because he was doing a Nelson impression? Or what?


A likely (and note I can't prove it but it's quite logical when you think of it) answer is that the hardest part, and hence the most expensive, to draw/sculpt etc when your subject is human is the hand. So maybe he was doing it to save money (although I dread to think where he hid his hands on the statue that Arthur Wellesley stole ;~?

 
Jef
200616.  Wed Aug 15, 2007 4:09 pm Reply with quote

laidbacklazyman wrote:
Well trawling through the bits and bobs looking for questions for the quiz that's going to be on gadmp.co.uk and I come across this little nugget

Flash wrote:

Also, B for Buonaparte is often depicted with his hand tucked into his weskit - presumably that's just to keep it warm? Or because he was doing a Nelson impression? Or what?


A likely (and note I can't prove it but it's quite logical when you think of it) answer is that the hardest part, and hence the most expensive, to draw/sculpt etc when your subject is human is the hand. So maybe he was doing it to save money (although I dread to think where he hid his hands on the statue that Arthur Wellesley stole ;~?


There is another theory that Bonaparte had a liver condition, and he kept his hand there to - somehow - manage the pain...

 
Jef
200617.  Wed Aug 15, 2007 4:11 pm Reply with quote

I saw the eighth episode of season B again, and I'm not so sure what Stephen Fry says about 'cookies' is all that correct.

He claims that the word 'cookie' is derived from the Dutch word 'koekje'. So far, correct. False, however, is the fact that the Dutch word 'koekje' means 'cake'.

 
Flash
200654.  Wed Aug 15, 2007 5:58 pm Reply with quote

Interesting - though etymonline claims that it does, as well:

Quote:
1703, Amer.Eng., from Du. koekje "little cake," dim. of koek "cake," from M.Du. koke

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=cookie&searchmode=none

 
suze
200660.  Wed Aug 15, 2007 6:12 pm Reply with quote

An online Dutch dictionary gave me this:

koekje [nn] (cupcake) small cake baked in a muffin tin

I'm well aware that online dictionaries aren't always the most reliable things, but this one seems reliable enough; next time I speak to Hans Mof I'll ask him about this one, since I know that he possesses a proper big Dutch dictionary.

 
npower1
200674.  Wed Aug 15, 2007 7:16 pm Reply with quote

Suze,
Is this dictionary reliable because it agrees with your 'views' or 'knowledge' or because it is 'definitive'.

 
suze
200679.  Wed Aug 15, 2007 7:45 pm Reply with quote

None of the above really, just that I checked a couple of Dutch words that I knew and it agreed with what I knew them to mean!

But now then, I've just spoken with Hans Mof, who has been kind enough to consult Van Dale - the Dutch equivalent of the OED.

That dictionary gives the following definition:

koekˇje (het ~, ~s)
1 kleine platte gebakken lekkernij

and Hans translates the bit after the 1 as "small flat baked tidbit".

That is to say, a biscuit rather than a cake - even though etymologically, koekje is the diminutive of koek (which means "cake", albeit usually one made from batter rather than from dough). So "cookie" is derived from a Dutch word whose etymological meaning is "little cake", but which in fact means "biscuit".

The etymology of koek itself is unclear, and Van Dale can do no more than say it may come from koken (= to cook), in turn perhaps from the Latin coquere.

 
Jef
200699.  Wed Aug 15, 2007 8:42 pm Reply with quote

suze wrote:
None of the above really, just that I checked a couple of Dutch words that I knew and it agreed with what I knew them to mean!

But now then, I've just spoken with Hans Mof, who has been kind enough to consult Van Dale - the Dutch equivalent of the OED.

That dictionary gives the following definition:

koekˇje (het ~, ~s)
1 kleine platte gebakken lekkernij

and Hans translates the bit after the 1 as "small flat baked tidbit".

That is to say, a biscuit rather than a cake - even though etymologically, koekje is the diminutive of koek (which means "cake", albeit usually one made from batter rather than from dough). So "cookie" is derived from a Dutch word whose etymological meaning is "little cake", but which in fact means "biscuit".

The etymology of koek itself is unclear, and Van Dale can do no more than say it may come from koken (= to cook), in turn perhaps from the Latin coquere.


I'm Belgian and Dutchspeaking, so - like you about the Dutch words - I'm a bit confused with the meaning of the word 'cake' in English.

Maybe images are easier:

What we in Dutch call a cake:


What we in Dutch call a 'koekje':


That's clarity for you... :-)

 
Flash
200726.  Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:19 am Reply with quote

In English there's a grey area between the cake and the biscuit, occupied by a thing called a Jaffa Cake (a proprietary brand name), which most people would describe colloquially as a biscuit. It matters (a bit) because they're treated differently for tax purposes.

 
npower1
200745.  Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:39 am Reply with quote

Should someone ring the Guinness book of Records? This thread seems to have arisen from the dead, having been originally started in 2003.

 

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