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General Ignorance

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3993.  Thu Jan 08, 2004 4:47 pm Reply with quote

English muffins, Danish pastries, etc etc

3996.  Thu Jan 08, 2004 5:18 pm Reply with quote

In Denmark, Danish pastries are called Viennese pastries, because they came from a Viennese baker who settled in Copenhagen, I think.

4325.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:19 pm Reply with quote

Q: What do the St Bernard dogs who rescue stranded travellers at the St Bernard pass in Switzerland carry in the little barrels around their neck?

Forfeit: brandy

A: Nothing. According to monks at the hospice, the dogs have never carried brandy kegs in rescue work. They often pose with the traditional casks for the benefit of visitors. This legend probably dates back to an artist who drew the original Barry (the wonder dog who rescued forty people and was killed by the fortyfirst, who mistook him for a wolf) with a cask simply because he thought it would add interest. The public loved the idea and would not be told otherwise. Ever since the days of Barry the wonder dog, the handsomest dog in the kennel has carried the name of Barry in his honour.

Bonus: Although the dogs do not carry anything, the monks who go with them carry (or at any rate they did in 1957!) a flask of hot tea and wine.

Source: article in National Geographic magazine, January 1957

4326.  Tue Jan 13, 2004 7:21 pm Reply with quote

I think post 3431 ought to go in here, because I didn't know that some bees could sting repeatedly, as wasps can. I thought one sting meant a death sentence for the poor little buggers.

4591.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 6:56 pm Reply with quote

Good thought Jenny. Can you cut and paste it for convenience?

I fancy there is an interesting lead on the subject of Victorian piano legs.

I'm pretty sure the Victorians never were so bonkers as to put bloomers on them...

4611.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 11:01 pm Reply with quote

Here it is Jack - posted by Flash, though there doesn't seem to be a source:

One feature of bees and wasps that is often cited as distinguishing the two is actually a long-standing fallacy.. Mention is frequently made of how a bee will lose its stinger in the flesh of its victim because the barbs ... prevent it from being withdrawn (whereas) the wasp has no barbs, which enables (it) to sting repeatedly. First of all, some wasps do carry barbed stingers ... The major error, however, is including all bees in the distinction... Only the honey bee, which was introduced to the Americas by European settlers, has such a stinger and loses it upon attack ... often ... leading to the the bee's death within a few hours. The bumblebee and other North American bees ... can sting repeatedly, just like the wasp ...

4612.  Thu Jan 15, 2004 11:06 pm Reply with quote

I suspect the Victorian piano legs thing to be unfounded unless somebody else can turn something up. At any rate, I found a picture of a young lady sitting next to a shockingly naked one. - but you have to search for piano legs and click on the picture of a young lady playing a harmonium.

There is also Holman Hunt's famous picture 'The Awakening Conscience', but perhaps one can attribute the young lady's lapse in morality to the nakedness of the piano leg:

4614.  Fri Jan 16, 2004 4:15 am Reply with quote

posted by Flash, though there doesn't seem to be a source

An all-too-frequent complaint.

"This Is Not A Weasel", Philip B Mortenson, I think.

And I recall seeing somewhere that Victorians did put covers on their piano legs, but to protect them from cats' claws.

4620.  Fri Jan 16, 2004 5:18 am Reply with quote

And, speaking of bees, don't forget the unairworthy bumble bee myth: covered in the following:
post 1644
post 1648
post 2688

Jenny proposed the question "If you were a bumble bee, would you pack a parachute?" which I will post to the question basket with a link.

4799.  Sun Jan 18, 2004 2:06 pm Reply with quote

From the Beheadings thread, post 4797:

Although people believe that Guillotin invented the device, it had been used in Italy, Germany, France and Scotland in the 16th century.

5125.  Thu Jan 22, 2004 5:55 pm Reply with quote

Q: How many points do you have to score to win a game of table tennis?

(forfeit: 21)

A: 11

The rule was changed in July 2003, and it is now against the rules of the English Table Tennis Association to play 21-up. Any club wishing to play 21-up tournaments would have to disaffiliate from the Association in order to do so.

post 5124

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.

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:

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'.

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

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.


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