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  1. What's the Word: SUPERSEDENCE pronunciation: [soo-pər-SEED-ns] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. The act of taking the place of (a person or thing previously in authority or use), or supplanting. Example: "Gasoline-powered cars face supersedence by the rising popularity of electric vehicles." "Since the 1990s, the supersedence of hip-hop and pop music over rock 'n' roll on the charts has been clear." About Supersedence “Supersedence” is formed out of the verb “supercede,” from the Latin “supersedere,” meaning “be superior to.” The current sense of supplanting a previous version dates from the mid 17th century. Did You Know? Consumer electronics is a market of supersedence. Manufacturers offer updated models every year, which they hope will supersede last year’s model in the eyes of consumers. Supersedence isn’t built into the market of every consumer product, however. Many simple items, like tools or cooking utensils, hardly change at all, allowing for very little change from year to year. Automobile manufacturers have relied on a degree of supersedence with the release of each year’s models of cars and trucks. However, car and truck makers are rarely ever able to offer the kinds of continual technological upgrades that smartphone, tablet, and computer makers tout as the hallmarks of each new product they release.
  2. Fact of the Day - HARRY HOUDINI Did you know... Though Harry Houdini died nearly a century ago, his mystique has never faded. The famed magician captured the imagination of the world with his death-defying stunts and performances, many of which still baffle modern magicians. Whether he was escaping from a straitjacket while suspended from a crane above the streets or getting out of his famed “Chinese water torture cell” with just moments of air to spare, Houdini had a habit of leaving everyone in awe. And with performances that spectacular, it shouldn’t come as a shock that his life was just as fascinating. Read on for some interesting facts about Harry Houdini. (By Stacy Conradt | Original: Mar 18, 2009 | Updated: Mar 23, 2022) Magical Facts About Harry Houdini by Interesting Facts Jaw-dropping. Death-defying. Head-scratching. Few entertainers reach the heights achieved by early 20th-century illusionist Harry Houdini, who earned renown for his ability to free himself from seemingly impenetrable modes of confinement. The escape artist’s legend endures not only because he constantly introduced new mesmerizing challenges to his repertoire, but also because he was a skilled promoter who used embellishment and misdirection to his advantage. For decades, biographers have had to contend with Houdini's changing accounts of formative events in his life, along with the myths that built up around his celebrated performances. Nevertheless, several truths have emerged, like Houdini himself rising to the surface after one of his patented underwater escapes. Here are seven facts about the life of a man who pushed the boundaries of reality to great effect and everlasting fame. 1. Houdini Was Inspired by the “Father of Modern Magic” According to the researcher John Cox, Houdini's beginnings as a serious stage artist can be traced to his discovery of Frenchman Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, the "father of modern magic." After reading Robert-Houdin's memoir in 1891, the New York City teen — then known as Ehrich Weiss — quit his job as a tie-cutter, changed his name to Harry Houdini, and set his legendary career in motion. However, his eventual mastery of stagecraft seemingly soured Houdini on the tricks of his predecessor, and in 1908, he bluntly denounced the methods of his erstwhile hero with the publication of The Unmasking of Robert-Houdin. 2. Houdini's Performances Were a Family Affair Although Houdini is largely remembered as a one-man show, a couple of loved ones were prominently involved in his performances. He shared the stage with his younger brother Theo in the early 1890s and later helped establish Theo as a rival illusionist and escape artist named Hardeen, with their manufactured “bad blood” providing extra publicity for their dueling performances. Houdini spent even more time working with his wife, Bess, who faithfully served at his side after taking over for Theo in 1894. Although she reportedly retired in 1908, Bess occasionally rejoined her husband on stage, and once again became a trusted partner by the time he launched his late-career 3 Shows in One act. 3. Houdini’s “Mirror” Handcuffs Challenge Cemented His Fame The performance that solidified Houdini's iconic status took place in March 1904, when the "Handcuff King" agreed to a challenge from the London Daily Mirror which placed him in a pair of special cuffs that allegedly took five years to construct and “could not be picked.” Working his magic from behind a curtain, an exasperated Houdini appeared at one point to stretch, get a glass of water from Bess, and accept a cushion. He later dramatically slashed off his coat with a penknife and emerged triumphant after more than an hour's struggle. As with many of Houdini's tricks, the secret to this famous escape went to the grave with its master, although some have speculated that he simply used a key that was passed along in the cushion or glass of water. 4. Houdini Once Dazzled Teddy Roosevelt While Houdini could command crowds of 10,000 spectators for his outdoor shows, he likely got one of his biggest kicks from a semi-private performance for Theodore Roosevelt aboard the SS Imperator in June 1914. The illusionist employed a slate trick, a common practice among mediums at the time, where the participant writes down a question and then a “spirit” answers it. Houdini had Roosevelt write down a question, "Where was I last Christmas?" and then placed it between the pages of a book. The book was then reopened to reveal a map of South America and details of the former President's then-unknown trip to a tributary of the Amazon River. Houdini reassured his stunned audience that he wasn’t really communicating with spirits, though he declined to admit that he’d learned of Roosevelt's expedition from editorial friends at the U.K.'s Telegraph, and then used his sleight-of-hand skills to slip the map into the book. 5. Houdini's Screen Career Flopped After years of filming his performances, Houdini went all-in on the burgeoning motion-picture industry as he entered his 40s. He starred in the 15-part serial The Master Mystery (1918) and a pair of feature films, and by 1921, he had also launched an interrelated web of companies to produce, develop, and distribute movies. But while audiences loved his live shows, Houdini failed to find the magic formula with his big-screen offerings, which typically showcased him escaping hairy situations set up by the action-romance script. After The Man From Beyond (1922) and Haldane of the Secret Service (1923) bombed, Houdini abandoned his Hollywood hopes and returned to his tried-and-true methods of entertainment. 6. Houdini Almost Died While Being Buried Alive Houdini's death-defying stunts occasionally veered off their carefully planned paths, and while the story that he got trapped beneath a frozen river may have ultimately been a fabrication, an attempt at a "buried alive" trick nearly took his life. According to Cox, the incident likely happened when Houdini, preparing for a show in the Los Angeles area in spring 1919, did a test run of being handcuffed and buried beneath six feet of soil. The earth proved weightier than expected, however, and after his cries for help went unnoticed, the almost-suffocated showman managed to dig his way to the surface. Houdini later referred to it in an article for Collier's as "the narrowest squeak of my life." 7. Houdini Was Anti-Spiritualist But Also Believed in Communicating With the Dead Few public figures were more vocal than Houdini when it came to opposing the Spiritualist movement that gained steam in Western culture after World War I. He feuded with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on the topic, undertook a lecture tour to expose the methods employed by mediums, and even testified in congressional hearings about a proposed bill to regulate the fortune-telling business. Yet for all his skepticism, Houdini remained intrigued by reincarnation and the possibilities of communicating with the dead. He and his wife agreed to try to contact one another should death pull them apart, a pact faithfully followed by Bess for a full decade following Houdini's passing on Halloween 1926. As far as we know, there was no evidence of contact. Source: Facts About Harry Houdini | Facts About Illusionist Harry Houdini
  3. What's the Word: GALVANIZE pronunciation: [GAL-və-niyz] Part of speech: verb Origin: French, early 19th century Meaning: 1. Shock or excite (someone) into taking action. 2. Coat (iron or steel) with a protective layer of zinc. Example: "Toronto Raptors star Kawhi Leonard galvanized Canada into basketball fandom." "The strength Eleanor needed to lift her grandchildren surprised her, and galvanized her to start going to the gym." About Galvanize “Galvanize” comes from the French “galvaniser,” meaning “stimulate by electricity,” named for Italian physician Luigi Galvani. Did You Know? In 1792, Italian physician and physicist Luigi Galvani helped develop the idea of “bioelectromechanics,” the relationship between magnetic/electrical forces and biological subjects like cells and tissues. Galvani gave his name to “galvanism,” the process of generating electricity from chemical sources. This electrical connection is the basis of the modern definitions of “galvanize.” The word can refer to both the literal and figurative human experience of being shocked or excited into taking action, as well as to the chemical practice of using an electric charge to coat metal with a thin layer of protective zinc.
  4. Fact of the Day - COLLEGE TRADITIONS Shoe Tree Murray State University (Murray, KY) Did you know... There are strange things happening at college campuses across the country. Students are nailing their shoes to trees, howling at the moon, and kissing statue’s bums with no one giving these weird pastimes a second thought. From the outside looking in, there is no way to explain these odd acts. But, college traditions are a huge part of what takes a bunch of students and makes them a community that lasts a lifetime. (Kaeli Nieves-Whitmore | Last updated on October 8, 2021) Unusual U.S. College Traditions by Interesting Facts When you think of U.S. college traditions, alcohol-fueled antics and Animal House tropes may come to mind, but that wouldn’t be giving college students nearly enough credit. Whether it’s honoring a specific chemical element, chucking broken pianos off rooftops, or celebrating a particularly significant prime number, students have found creative ways over the years to forget the stresses of academic life. These stories showcase 12 of the strangest college traditions found on campuses throughout the United States. 1. Dragon Day (Cornell University, Ithaca, New York) Every year in March, first-year students at the Cornell University College of Architecture, Art, and Planning build a massive dragon to wage battle against a phoenix designed by the school’s College of Engineering students. Known as Dragon Day, the tradition dates back to 1901, when a student at the Ithaca, New York, school named Willard Dickerman Straight proposed a day to celebrate the architecture college. Through the decades, the event evolved alongside a growing rivalry between the architecture and the engineering students, until it eventually took the shape of today’s Dragon Day. It used to be that after the ensuing scuffle between the dragon and phoenix in the Arts Quad, the dragon was burned to a crisp, but this post-battle tradition has since been abandoned. 2. Piano Drop (M.I.T., Cambridge, Massachusetts) A 1972 debate in M.I.T.’s Baker House dormitory started over a simple question: “What are we going to do with this broken piano?” Someone suggested throwing the piano out the window, but student guidelines at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, university forbade throwing anything out of windows. However, an astute M.I.T. student named Charlie Bruno pointed out that the guidelines didn’t say anything about the roof. Fifty years later, M.I.T. students still muscle a broken, irreparable piano up to the roof of Baker House each year and watch it plunge to the ground. 3. Dooley Week (Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia) A skeleton named Dooley, known as the “Lord of Misrule,” serves as the spirit of Atlanta’s Emory University. The tradition dates back to an October 1899 article in Emory’s monthly literary journal titled “Reflections of a Skeleton,” written from the humorous perspective of a medical skeleton housed in the science room. In 1909, the skeleton appeared in another article in the same literary journal, and took on the name Dooley. Today, Emory celebrates its resident spirit with a weeklong celebration. On one unspecified day during Dooley’s Week each spring, a person dressed as Dooley (or is it Dooley himself?) and accompanied by a coterie of guards dismisses classes for the day, and students celebrate with activities including games and concerts. 4. Pterodactyl Hunt (Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania) A longstanding tradition at Pennsylvania’s Swarthmore College states that once a year the “temporal boundary between the present and 65 million years ago weakens, letting loose vicious pterodactyls and a slew of countless other monsters.” Students — armed with foam bats — defend the campus in a campus-wide LARP (live action role-playing) game of unparalleled chaos and weirdness. The university’s Psi Phi Club organizes the monster showdown to encourage students to stop worrying about grades for a night and instead take up arms against supposed pterodactyl invaders. 5. Shoe Tree (Murray State University, Murray, Kentucky) On the campus of Kentucky’s Murray State University grows an unusual tree. Its trunk is completely obscured by hundreds of pairs of shoes, but, strangely, the “pairs” don’t match. In a sign of their devotion, couples who met on campus each leave behind one of their shoes, with the date of their anniversary written on the soles, to form a new “pair.” Some alumni couples who procreate return to the shoe tree to add a third baby shoe to their small footwear tribute. The tradition dates to around 1965, and the current tree is the third tree to stand on the spot — the first was struck by lightning and burned down, and the second was removed due to falling limbs. 6. The Healy Howl (Georgetown University, Washington D.C.) Several key scenes in the classic 1973 horror film The Exorcist were shot on Georgetown’s campus, so to celebrate the school’s small part in film history, the film is screened on Copley lawn each year on the night before Halloween. Once the credits begin rolling around midnight, students at the Washington, D.C., college walk to nearby Healy Hall and howl at the moon in an attempt to scare off any ghosts and ghouls from campus. 7. Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day (Reed College, Portland, Oregon) Nitrogen is the most abundant gas in Earth’s atmosphere, but it’s often overlooked because of its mostly inert properties — you can’t see, smell, or taste it. To give nitrogen its proper due, students at Portland, Oregon’s Reed College hosted the first Nitrogen Day in 1992, which featured grilled hotdogs (because of the nitrates), a ceremony called “In Nitrogen We Trust,” lots of liquid nitrogen freezing, and musical performances from a group by the name Just Say N to O Band. Despite being celebrated for two decades, each year’s event is labeled the Seventh Annual Nitrogen Day due to the element’s venerable position on the periodic table. 8. Great Midwest Trivia Contest (Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin) The “great” qualifier is not hyperbole: Started in 1966, the Great Midwest Trivia Contest is a 50-hour-long trivia marathon held during the last weekend of January at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and broadcast by the student radio station WLFM. The last question of the previous year’s contest becomes the first question the following year — which helps earn it the nickname of the “world’s longest-running trivia contest.” Because teams have access to the internet, the questions are usually quite difficult. For example, past questions have included: “Translate the phrase ‘Bon matin, j’aime le jeu’ from French to Furbish” (as in the language of Furbys) or “What is the binary code for the 13th letter when it is translated?” 9. The Pull (Hope College, Holland, Michigan) Dating back to 1898, “The Pull” is one of the oldest college traditions in the U.S. It’s exactly what it sounds like: an epic game of tug-of-war. Every fall, freshmen at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, face off against sophomores in a grueling game held across the Black River. Each team — composed of 18 “pullers,” who lay in pits and pull with all their might, and 18 “moralers,” who provide moral support and direction as the team’s “eyes” from above the pits — fight for every inch of rope. Most matches last upwards of three hours. However, the 1956 pull lasted a record-breaking short two minutes and 40 seconds. 10. Van Wickle Gates (Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island) Dedicated in 1902, Brown University’s Van Wickle Gates stand as a proud symbol of the Providence, Rhode Island, campus and its 250 years of history. However, the gates themselves are only open three days each year. At the beginning of fall and spring semesters, the gates open inward towards campus to admit new students, and during end-of-year commencement ceremonies, the gates open outward. According to longstanding tradition, students who walk through the gates before their graduation are doomed to drop out. The university’s marching band members, who must walk through the gates for every commencement ceremony, attempt to avoid this fate by crossing as many limbs as possible or by hopping backwards when passing through the gate. 11. Liquid Latex (Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts) Each April, students stage a “Liquid Latex” show at Brandeis University, a liberal arts college west of Boston. The students apply copious amounts of liquid latex paint to mostly nude models in various intricate designs and choreograph dances. It’s one of the largest liquid latex performances outside of Brazil’s Carnival celebrations — and it’s just risqué enough to earn an honorable mention in Playboy magazine. 12. Number 47 (Pomona College, Claremont, California) Pomona College has a strange relationship with the number 47. In the summer of 1964, science students at the Claremont, California, college were conducting experiments about the random occurrence of certain numbers in nature. Because 47 is such a large prime number, they used it as a control to see how frequently other numbers occurred. Strangely, the student began seeing the number 47 everywhere: The college is located on the nearby freeway’s exit 47, the college’s motto has 47 characters, the school’s organ has 47 pipes, and so on. Although it was an example of frequency bias — in which our brains are primed to see specific things when we’re actively searching for them — the number made its mark. It even snuck into pop culture: Pomona alum Joe Menosky included many references to 47 when writing episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Today, the college still honors its obsession with the number by holding an annual celebration on April 7, or 4/7. Source: The Weirdest College Traditions | Facts About College Traditions
  5. What's the Word: EFFECTUATE pronunciation: [ə-FEK-tyoo-eyt] Part of speech: verb Origin: Latin, 16th century Meaning: 1. Put into force or operation. Example: "The new highway law effectuated updates to all driver’s licenses." "The arrival of the rainy season effectuated a wave of growth across the jungle canopy." About Effectuate “Effectuate” comes from medieval Latin “effectuat-” (caused to happen), from the Latin “effectus.” Did You Know? “Effectuate” is a transitive verb, meaning an action that a subject does to an object. Often “effectuate” describes a secondary action that occurs as a consequence of other things happening, such as changes to policies or circumstances. Some shifts are deliberately effectuated, such as new legislation. Other times, changes may be effectuated due to shifts in technology or society. For example, advances in DNA sequencing continue to effectuate the evolution of cancer treatments.
  6. Fact of the Day - AMAZON RIVER Did you know... There are no bridges across the Amazon River. When it comes to the Amazon River, there’s no such thing as water under the bridge. The idiom simply doesn’t apply there, as no bridges cross the Amazon River despite it being at least 4,000 miles long. This isn’t because the idea has never occurred to anyone — it would just be extremely difficult to build any. The Amazon has both a dry season and a rainy season, and during the latter its waters rise 30 feet, causing three-mile-wide crossings to grow by a factor of 10 as previously dry areas are submerged. The river bank itself is also in a near-constant state of erosion due to how soft the sediment it consists of is, and there’s no shortage of debris floating in the water. Beyond all those logistical hurdles, there simply isn’t much use for bridges across the massive river. For one thing, there are few roads on either side of the Amazon that need to be connected. The river is, of course, in the middle of a dense rainforest, the vast majority of which is sparsely populated. Other long rivers have numerous crossings, however: The Nile has nine bridges in Cairo alone, for instance, and more than 100 bridges have been built across China’s Yangtze River in the last three decades. For now, boats and ferries are the preferred method of crossing the Amazon, and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. The Amazon used to flow in the opposite direction. These days, the river flows east and into the Atlantic. That wasn't always the case, as it used to flow west into the Pacific — and even both directions simultaneously. This was during the Cretaceous Period, between 65 million and 145 million years ago, and was the result of a highland (mountainous area) that formed along the east coast of South America when that landmass and Africa broke apart. The Andes eventually formed on the western half of the continent, which forced the river into its current eastward flow. (Interesting Facts) AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE AMAZON RIVER WE BET YOU DIDN’T KNOW! by Times Travel | May 16, 2022 1. Amazing facts about the Amazon River we bet you didn’t know! The Amazon river is undoubtedly one of the world’s most significant water bodies. Apart from being the world’s largest, there are many other facts about this massive water body that are both intriguing as well as surprising. For starters, here are some amazing facts about the Amazon river we bet you didn’t know about. 2. World’s richest tropical forest The Amazon rainforest inhabits the drainage basin of the Amazon river, the reason why this massive rainforest is the world’s richest in terms of biodiversity. As per the records, this rainforest is home to millions of insect species, 2000 mammals and birds, and 40000 plant species, along with some 390 billion individual trees. 3. No bridges! Well, it might be difficult to comprehend how this mighty river has no bridge over it! It’s just the river, lush green forests surrounding it, and endless views of the sky to grace your views. As such, 10 million people living on the banks of this river can get past this river only via boat, whereas lack of infrastructure has helped the region to retain its natural appeal. Also, the lack of bridges is due to the seasonal changes in the Amazon riverbed. 4. Its origination This river has been in debate regarding its origin and length for a long time. It’s so complicated that there are various sources to cement their records, and arguing that it originated from the Mismi Peak in the Andes of Peru, and even Maranon River to the Ucayali River. With different sources suggesting its claim of origin, it’s worth noting that they are all located in Peru. 5. World’s largest river by volume of water There have been debates regarding the world’s longest river for a long time between the Amazon and Nile; however, the Amazon has no competition when it comes to its size or volume. It is undoubtedly the world’s largest river with an average discharge volume of 209,000 m3/s; this vast freshwater discharge of the Amazon river travels straight into the Atlantic Ocean, which helps in diluting the sea’s salinity for an area of around 2500000 km². 6. World’s second longest river While the Nile River often gets away with the title of world’s longest river with a length of 6695 km, the Amazon also often disputes that claim. There have been many expeditions led by famous explorers, who set off to measure its length and many found that its total length is greater than that of the Nile river. Yet, there are others who have claimed that the distance of the Amazon river is lesser than that of Nile, which further leads to more confusion, and is still open for future debates. 7. Crosses across several countries The Amazon river crosses through Columbia, Brazil, Venezuela, and Peru, with Brazil holding the largest portion by far. Also, the areas or the Amazon river's watershed receives freshwater from even more countries. Plus, rainfall in Columbia, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela supplies the Amazon with much of its freshwater. 8. It once flowed in opposite direction This mighty river, at this moment, flows into the Atlantic Ocean, which was always not the case. As per the records, several millions years ago, the river used to flow westward, which changed its course when a tilt in the earth caused the river’s reversed flow eastward. If records are to go by, this change occurred due to the result of erosion along with a series of geological occurrences. Source: Facts About the Amazon River | What You Don't Know About the Amazon River
  7. What's the Word: ZEAL pronunciation: [zeel] Part of speech: noun Origin: Late Middle English, 15th century Meaning: 1. Great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective. Example: "Tiffany had an incredible zeal for knitting socks to give as Christmas presents." "I tackled my messy closet with zeal so I could get it as organized as the Instagram posts I saved." About Zeal “Zeal” appeared first in Middle English as “zele.” This was based on the Latin “zēlus” and the Ancient Greek “ζῆλος,” or “zêlos,” meaning “jealousy.” Did You Know? “Zeal” shares the same root as the word “jealousy,” and there are parallels between the two. Zeal is a state of passionate enthusiasm for a project or cause that can run to extremes, while jealousy is a state of extreme insecurity. While jealousy is often destructive, a person with zeal can do good things and have intense devotion to worthy causes. However, a “zealot” can take passionate convictions into extremism and negative ends. As such, "zeal" is a measure of the intensity of the feeling, not of the direction it takes a person.
  8. Fact of the Day - ABOUT ALCOHOL Did you know.... Humans invented alcohol before we invented the wheel. The wheel is credited as one of humankind’s most important inventions: It allowed people to travel farther on land than ever before, irrigate crops, and spin fibers, among other key benefits. Today, we often consider the wheel to be the ultimate civilization game-changer, but it turns out, creating the multipurpose apparatus wasn’t really on humanity’s immediate to-do list. Our ancient ancestors worked on other ideas first: boats, musical instruments, glue — and alcohol. The oldest evidence of booze comes from China, where archaeologists have unearthed 9,000-year-old pottery coated with beer residue; in contrast, early wheels didn’t appear until around 3500 BCE (about three millennia later), in what is now Iraq. But even when humans began using wheels, they had a different application — rudimentary versions were commonly used as potter’s wheels, a necessity for mass-producing vessels that could store batches of brew (among other things). Some researchers believe our long-standing relationship with alcohol began only 10 million years ago thanks to a genetic mutation that allowed our bipedal ancestors to consume overly ripe fruit. Over time, alcohol consumption transitioned from snacktime byproduct to a purposefully crafted, fermented beverage, and different cultures began to create their own brews independently. After China’s beer and wine appeared around 7000 BCE, early vintners in the Caucasus Mountains followed 1,000 years later. Sumerian brewers crafted beer around 3000 BCE, while Indigenous communities in the Americas, such as the Aztecs and Incas, later made their own alcoholic drinks from agave and corn. It may seem surprising that ancient humans were so fermentation-focused, but early alcohols played a major role in prehistoric communities: Booze was often the center of religious and social celebrations, and could serve as a go-to cure for illness and pain. In some cases, it even acted as a nutritious, probiotic boost during times of food scarcity. With their many uses, both lifesaving and life-enhancing, brewed beverages have withstood the test of time. It takes eight years to grow agave plants for tequila. When European colonists first encountered Mexico’s native agave plants, they were intrigued by the succulents the Aztecs had been using to make clothing, rope, and intoxicating drinks. The spike-tipped plants, which grow as tall as 20 feet, were dug up and transplanted to greenhouses and botanical gardens throughout Spain, Portugal, and other parts of Europe starting in the 16th century. But most agave plants struggled to flourish in areas lacking their natural arid climate; in cooler countries, they were dubbed “century plants,” because those that survived the overseas journey didn’t bloom for nearly 100 years. Agave plants mature much faster when left in their natural habitats, but growing the crop for today’s tequila production is still a time investment. It traditionally takes about eight years before the plants are ready to harvest, though some agave crops are left to grow even longer. (Interesting Facts) Mind-blowing Alcohol Facts By Patrick J. Kiger | Updated: March 25, 2022 Drinking has been so widespread throughout history that Patrick McGovern, an archaeological chemist at the University of Pennsylvania, called it "a universal language" in an Economist article. Indeed, you're hard-pressed to find a culture or event in history that alcohol (or lack of it) didn't feature in some way. In a sense, alcoholic beverages are just a simple matter of chemistry and physiology. When yeast cells consume carbohydrates in grains, vegetables or fruits, they produce a fluid called ethyl alcohol. The latter, when ingested by humans, is converted into a chemical called acetaldehyde, and then eventually broken down into carbon dioxide and water. While ethyl alcohol is toxic in large enough doses, in more moderate quantities it merely relaxes the muscles and stimulates the brain by depressing inhibitions [source: Encyclopaedia Britannica]. But that explanation hardly does justice to a substance that people have been eagerly producing and consuming since the dawn of human civilization. The ancient Sumerians, who lived 4,500 years ago, even worshipped a goddess, Ninkasi, who ruled over the brewing and distributing of beer to the populace. In a royal tomb, we find figures sucking brew with straws out of what resembles a modern beer keg [source: Gately]. Who knew? In that spirit (pardon the pun), here are 10 fascinating facts about alcohol that will enrich your cocktail conversations. 1. White Wine Can Be Made From Red Grapes The wordy wine snob portrayed by Paul Giamatti in the movie "Sideways" probably could have expounded on this fact at length, but for those of us who think of fine wine as anything that doesn't come with a screw top, it probably comes as a surprise. You can make white wine from red grapes. Champagne, for example, is made from pinot noir and Pinot Meunier grapes (both red grapes) as well as chardonnay, and the three types of grapes are often blended. All grape juice, which comes from the inside of the grapes, starts out as white. It's the skin that contains the red pigment. If the juice is squeezed out of the grapes and separated quickly from the skins, it remains white. By contrast, if winemakers are producing a red wine, they allow the juice to remain in contact with the red skins during fermentation. This causes the wine to become dark [source: Crosariol]. 2. Americans Once Drank More Alcohol Than Water Early Americans would be shocked by the current level of alcohol consumption in the nation — because it's so much less than they used to drink. In the 1600s and 1700s, many Americans saw alcohol not just as a pleasant diversion, but as a miraculous medicine that could cure illnesses, strengthen the weak and pep up old people. As a result, they often started the day with a liquor pick-me-up and then consumed more alcohol steadily throughout the day, sometimes finishing with several rounds at a tavern in the evening. In 1790, according to federal government data, the average American over the age of 15 consumed the following over a year [source: Crews]: 34 gallons (129 liters) of beer and cider 5 gallons (19 liters) of whiskey or other distilled spirits 1 gallon (4 liters) of wine In 2020, however, the typical American drank over the course of the year: About 26.1 gallons (98 liters) of beer and cider [source: NWBA] 2.3 gallons (8 liters) of spirits [source: Vinepair] 3.09 gallons of wine (11 liters) [source: Conway] Part of the reason for the heavy consumption back then was that water was often unsafe to drink. Even though this was more of a problem in Europe, the earliest settlers followed the example of their European forebears who were used to substituting beer or wine for water. One of the few liquor naysayers in Colonial times was physician Benjamin Rush, who developed the theory that alcoholism was a disease, but hardly anyone listened to him [source: Crews]. 3. Whiskey Starts Out Clear Part of the ambiance of whiskey is that rich amber color that reminds you that you're drinking something that was carefully aged for years, like a prized pair of Levis or a tweed jacket that you've adorned with leather elbow patches as the fabric frayed. But you might be surprised to learn that the color actually is added on, in the same fashion. Ethyl alcohol is clear, and so are most varieties of whiskey at the start. But after distilling, the liquor is aged in oak casks that have been air-dried for nine months and then heated on the inside to give the wood a charred "red layer" that is rich in wood sugars and caramelized tannin. Those chemicals, when they're absorbed by the whiskey, change its taste and give it the amber color [source: Waldman]. 4. Diet Mixers in Cocktails Get You Drunk Faster People who are worried about gaining weight from the empty calories in booze might try to compensate by using diet soda when they make a seven-and-seven or a rum and Coke. But there's a catch that could land you in the drunk tank. In a study published in 2013 in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, researchers from Northern Kentucky University reported that drinkers who consumed artificially sweetened mixers had a significantly higher breath-alcohol reading than those who used mixers containing sugar, which apparently slows the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream. Worse yet, "individuals were unaware of these differences, a factor that may increase the safety risks associated with drinking alcohol," the scientists noted [sources: Marczinski and Stamates, Eldred]. 5. Studies Show That Abstaining Is Riskier to Health Than Drinking For decades, we've all heard the warnings about how excessive drinking can turn your liver into Swiss cheese, and cause all sorts of other awful physical woes as well. But when scientists actually got around to studying the death rates of drinkers and non-drinkers, they made a startling discovery. For reasons that aren't entirely clear, abstaining from drinking actually tends to increase your risk of dying. In a study published in 2010 in the scientific journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, University of Texas at Austin psychologist Charles Holahan found that over a 20-year period, 69 percent of abstainers died. That actually was higher than the 60 percent death rate for heavy drinkers. But the longest-lived group among the 1,824 study participants was composed of moderate drinkers, only 41 percent of whom died in that period. Holahan and his co-researchers did a model controlling for former problem drinking, existing health problems and other factors. They found that even after the adjustments, "abstainers and heavy drinkers continued to show increased mortality risks of 51 and 45 percent, respectively, compared to moderate drinkers" [sources: Holahan, Cloud]. Other studies have painted a more complicated picture. A study published in 2013 in Population Research Policy Review, for example, found that the reasons why someone drinks or doesn't drink may affect mortality [source: Rogers, et al]. And another study, this one out of Germany, published Nov. 2, 2021 in the journal PLOS Medicine, indicated that "the majority of the alcohol abstainers at baseline were former alcohol consumers and had risk factors that increased the likelihood of early death. Former alcohol use disorders, risky alcohol drinking, ever having smoked tobacco daily, and fair to poor health were associated with early death among alcohol abstainers." Even so, the consensus seems to be that light drinking is associated with the lowest health risks, while heavy drinking is still dangerous [source: Shmerling]. 6. The U.S. Government Used to Poison Alcohol During Prohibition in the 1920s, the U.S. federal government tried to outlaw the sale of booze, wine and beer, and that didn't go over very well. By mid-decade, officials in the administration of President Calvin Coolidge were frustrated because so many Americans continued to drink bootlegged alcohol. They decided upon a devious — or rather, murderous — tactic. Knowing that millions of gallons of industrial alcohol were being stolen by bootleggers and used to make beverages, they ordered manufacturers in 1926 to add poisons such as formaldehyde, chloroform and methyl alcohol to their products. Quickly, illicit drinkers began dying in droves, and the toll became so shocking that New York City medical examiner actually held a press conference to warn the public about the plot. "The United States government must be charged with the moral responsibility for the deaths that poisoned liquor causes, although it cannot be held legally responsible," he railed. It did little good. Four hundred people died in New York alone from poisoned booze, and the following year, the death toll climbed to 700. The fiendish deterrent program didn't stop until Prohibition was repealed in December 1933 [source: Blum]. 7. Wine Doesn't Necessarily Get Better With Age For someone who isn't steeped in wine knowledge, it's easy to listen to wine buffs talk about the vintage of various wines — that is, the year in which they were bottled — and assume that the older a wine is, the better. But that's not how it works. The most important thing about vintage is the particular year itself — what the weather conditions were back then, and what impact they might have had upon the grape harvest and the quality of the wine produced from it. As for age, that's more often a negative than a positive, according to wine writer Giles Kime. "The vast majority of wines — particularly whites — become increasingly dull and flaccid with age," he writes in his book "Secrets of Wine: Insider Secrets into the Real World of Wine." Only a few high-quality reds and some Champagnes improve over time — "and even that is very much a matter of personal taste." Apart from those exceptions, wines generally should be consumed within a year or two of bottling. 8. Tequila Only Can Come From Mexico According to Mexican law (which the U.S. honors), the famously fiery beverage must contain at least 51 percent liquor distilled from the sweet nectar of blue agave. That desert plant grown primarily in Jalisco, though four other Mexican states also are allowed to legally produce tequila. The name comes from the Ticuila Indians of Jalisco [sources: Humphrey, Handley]. When South African distillers started making their own version of the beverage in the early 2000s, using a plant similar to agave, Mexico didn't like the idea of being undercut. Its diplomats used international trade agreements to prevent South African companies from calling their product tequila. Instead, they were compelled to market it as "Agava" [source: Associated Press]. 9. A Beer Was Once Made From Antarctic Ice If you're a beer aficionado, you're probably familiar with brands of brew whose makers tout them as being made with mountain spring water or some other exotic ingredient. But in 2010, Nail Brewing, an Australian company, found a way to top all that. It created a limited-edition batch of beer using water made from melted Antarctic ice. The latter had been brought back by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an activist group that had staged an anti-whaling campaign in the Southern (Antarctic) Ocean. But you couldn't buy Antarctic Nail Ale at your local bottle shop. It was auctioned off at hefty prices of up to $1,850 Australian dollars (nearly $1,614) a bottle, with the proceeds going to the conservation group [source: Simpson]. 10. Wine Was Invented Before the Wheel It's not clear precisely when our ancient ancestors started imbibing, but most likely, ancient hunter-gatherers discovered the effects of alcohol when they found and ate fruit that had dropped to the ground and fermented. Humans liked that tipsy feeling so much that when they switched to being farmers and living in stable communities, they started trying to make the stuff deliberately. Archaeological chemist Patrick McGovern analyzed shards of clay from a 9,000-year-old Chinese village and found that they contained chemical traces of mead, a wine made from honey. The ancient beverage had an alcohol content of 10 percent [sources: Thadeusz, Gately]. Meanwhile, the potter's wheel wasn't invented until 3,500 years later in Mesopotamia, and wheeled chariots weren't developed until probably 300 years after that [source: Gambino]. So we know, at least, that the earliest mead drinkers didn't have to worry about finding designated drivers. Source: Interesting Facts About the Invention of Alcohol | Alcohol Facts
  9. What's the Word: INFRACANINOPHILE pronunciation: [in-fra-ka-NI-no-file] Part of speech: noun Origin: American English, 20th century Meaning: 1. One who loves and roots for underdogs (competitors at a disadvantage) Example: "Irma’s such an infracaninophile that she changes her favorite baseball team every year to whoever’s lowest in the standings." "The infracaninophile in me always wants to see the end of the game to find out if the loser turns it around." About Infracaninophile “Infracaninophile” combines the Latin prefix “infrā,” meaning “underneath,” with “canin,” referring to the Latin “canīnus,” meaning “dog.” Together these create a Latin improvisation of the U.S. slang term “underdog” (coined in the late 19th century), meaning “the competitor at a disadvantage or expected to lose.” The suffix “-phile” comes from Greek, meaning “dear” or “beloved.” Thus, “infracaninophile” is one for whom the underdog is dear or beloved. Did You Know? “Infracaninophile” was coined in the first half of the 20th century by American humorist, journalist, poet, novelist, and essayist Christopher Morley. In a preface to Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Complete Sherlock Holmes,” Morley wrote of Holmes that “he was always also the infracaninophile — the helper of the underdog." Morley likely knew the word “underdog” was a recent American invention; he saw the humor of rephrasing a modern slang word in ancient-sounding Latin.
  10. Fact of the Day - BLOCKBUSTER Did you know... There is only one remaining Blockbuster location — in Bend, Oregon. At its peak in 2004, Blockbuster, the wildly successful movie rental chain, boasted 9,094 locations. Today it has just one. Bend, Oregon, is home to the former giant’s last remaining outpost, a status the store attained when its counterpart in a suburb of Perth, Australia, closed in 2019. Originally opened in 1992 as Pacific Video, the location became a Blockbuster franchise store eight years later — and doesn’t look to be closing any time soon. That’s thanks in part to the 2020 documentary The Last Blockbuster, which contributed to the brick-and-mortar store being cemented as a tourist attraction among nostalgia-minded visitors. Besides the throwback vibe, another major attraction is the store’s expansive library. The Bend Blockbuster has a collection of around 25,000 movies, more than six times as many as Netflix, the monolith most responsible for its parent company’s slow decline. And while no one doubts the convenience of streaming, cinephiles continue to champion independent shops such as Scarecrow Video in Seattle (120,000 titles available) and Cinefile Video in Los Angeles (30,000) that carry rare and/or out-of-print selections unlikely to be found on Netflix, Hulu, or most other streaming services. Blockbuster turned down the chance to buy Netflix for $50 million. Back when the company was in its infancy, Netflix’s founders offered to sell their DVD-by-mail business to Blockbuster for the princely sum of $50 million. Blockbuster declined, and at the time their reasoning was sound — it was early 2000, their own company was valued at $6 billion, and Netflix was on track to lose $57 million that year alone. Within a decade, their fortunes had completely reversed: Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010, by which time Netflix had shifted away from its mail-order roots to focus on streaming video. In 2020, the company made close to $25 billion in revenue. (Interesting Facts) Fast-Forward Facts About Blockbuster Video By Jake Rossen | February 15, 2016 It wasn’t too long ago that Blockbuster Video was on top of the home video world. More than 9000 stores dotted the U.S. in 2004, each offering some 6000 square feet of DVDs, VHS tapes, video games, and candy bars. But the arrival of Netflix and entertainment-on-demand stripped the company to the bone and necessitated bankruptcy in 2010. Today, only one independently-owned Blockbuster is still operating in Bend, Oregon, a location made viable by a lack of high-speed internet in the surrounding area. If you’re feeling nostalgic for a time when it required transportation and human interaction to watch a movie, check out these 15 facts about the rise and fall of America’s onetime video king. 1. The first Blockbuster store opened because of falling oil prices. Dallas, Texas entrepreneur David Cook was still smarting from a collapsed oil market in 1985 when his wife, Sandy, broached the idea of opening up a video store. Cook had been writing computer programs to manage inventory for big oil businesses, but a market collapse led to a stack of unpaid invoices. At the same time, the VHS rental market was exploding, growing from 7000 stores in 1983 to 19,000 in 1986. The Cooks decided the industry could use a mega-store with an inventory larger than independent shops could provide. Sandy came up with the familiar blue-and-yellow color scheme, and Blockbuster was born. 2. Blockbuster was the first video store to keep tapes on shelves. Rental stores of the 1980s had a problem: Patrons who enjoyed movies but didn’t enjoy paying for them had a habit of relieving owners of their inventory. To discourage theft, an empty VHS box would sit on the shelf and an exchange would be made at the counter. But because Blockbuster’s inventory was so vast—the Cooks began with 8000 to 10,000 titles—it would be impossible to have a back room for the movies. The tapes stayed on shelves, allowing customers to see what was in stock. The system allowed for quicker customer turnover and an efficient inventory system that could allow them to populate an entire store with stock in a single day. By 1988, the franchise had more than 400 locations. 3. Blockbuster abstained from porn. Unlike many mom-and-pop shops that had a neon sign and a set of swinging doors that led to an adult selection of titles, the Cooks decided early on that Blockbuster would be a genital-free zone. It wasn’t a moral issue for them: “We don’t care if people watch pornography,” Cook told Business Week. “We just don’t want to sell it to you. A lot of families came to our store only—not because of the selection and not because of the long hours and not because of the convenient check-out and the three-day rentals—they came because they didn't mind their kids running around the store because they wouldn't see any garbage.” 4. Blockbuster was sued by Nintendo. It was inevitable that Blockbuster and other video chains would capitalize on the resurgence of video games in the 1980s by renting out popular titles. Mario and Link, however, were not willing to cooperate: Sticking to its reputation for stern business, Nintendo sued the company in 1989 for copyright infringement, complaining that stores were photocopying game manuals. (Blockbuster said they were simply compensating for the worn-out originals.) The two wound up settling out of court. By 1994, Nintendo had capitulated on its anti-rental stance, and Blockbuster reported that game rentals made up 8 to 10 percent of their revenue. 5. Blockbuster made a fortune on late fees. It’s difficult to lose money gambling on the over-booked, overworked American consumer, and Blockbuster was no exception. The company profited enormously from late fees, which accrued after the one- or three-day rental term had expired. In 2000, $800 million, or 16 percent of total revenue, came from fines. After the company revamped its policies in 2004 to trumpet “no more late fees,” New Jersey state attorney generals cried foul: While that may have been technically correct, a movie or game more than eight days late meant the customer was charged the full purchase price. Though Blockbuster's policy was to reverse the charges within 30 days if the customer returned the item, they were still charged a restocking fee. 6. Blockbuster tried becoming a mini-amusement park. Though he eventually turned the company over to other investors, Cook anticipated the idea that Blockbuster could become more than just a rental outfit when he named the company Blockbuster Entertainment in 1985. In 1994, executives tried to make good on the label by opening a center dubbed the Blockbuster Block Party in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Spread over 60,000 square feet, the “adult amusement park” featured laser tag, mazes, and motion simulator rides. The press referred to it as a “miniature Disneyland on steroids,” but the concept never caught on. 7. Blockbuster music stores banned male employees from having long hair. Starting in 1994, male employees working for the Blockbuster Music spin-off stores were told that long hair and earrings were banned. (According to Billboard magazine, their hair could be "no more than 2 inches past their collars.") A number of workers who refused to comply and were terminated wound up suing; the case was lost on appeal in 1998. 8. Blockbuster got exclusive rights to some movies. In the 1990s, some titles, like Lolita (1997), were exclusive to the chain, leaving smaller shops unable to secure them for their own inventory and prompting some to buy from wholesalers who ignored the exclusivity rules. 9. Blockbuster advertised on dry cleaning hangers. Sensing a missed opportunity to capture the attention of dry-cleaning customers, Blockbuster and several other businesses placed advertisements on bags and clothes hangers in 1998. Coupons were also stapled to the supplies. 10. Blockbuster turned down Netflix. Netflix was just beginning its ascension into a DVD-by-mail and streaming giant when CEO Reed Hastings met with Blockbuster in 2000 to pitch the possibility of his company handling Blockbuster’s online efforts. At the time, Blockbuster couldn’t conceive of how Hastings could add any value to their enormously successful enterprise; according to Forbes, Hastings was “laughed out of the room.” 11. Blockbuster later mailed Netflix a kitchen sink. After feeling the pressure from both Netflix and Redbox rental kiosks, Blockbuster developed its own mail rental service in 2004. According to Fast Company, when Hastings told listeners on a conference call that the company had “thrown everything but the kitchen sink” at Netflix in an attempt to be competitive, he received a kitchen sink in the mail from Blockbuster the following day. 12. Blockbuster tried to buy Circuit City. With Circuit City ailing, Blockbuster tried to arrange a buyout worth $1 billion in 2008—but the electronics franchise went bankrupt the following year. Blockbuster wound up losing a billion all by itself in 2010, forcing it into bankruptcy. 13. Vacant Blockbuster stores were in high demand. When Blockbuster began to vacate their locations, there was some small consolation: the storefronts were in high demand by strip mall occupants. A pawn shop franchise bought several locations in Florida and Puerto Rico; cell phone stores took up other locations. Business owners attributed their appeal to being in prime foot-traffic spots. 14. Someone noticed the title of the last movie rented at Blockbuster. Aside from the independently-owned, in-name-only stores, the last official Blockbuster Video location closed in November 2013. The last title rented? Seth Rogen’s 2013 apocalyptic comedy This Is the End. The company posted a photo of the moment on its Twitter page. And yes, the customer still had to return it. Source: Facts About Blockbuster | Facts About Blockbuster Video
  11. What's the Word: DISSERTATION pronunciation: [dis-ər-TEY-shən] Part of speech: noun Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. A long essay on a particular subject, especially one written as a requirement for the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree. Example: "The architecture professor wrote her dissertation on medieval castle engineering." "It takes years to earn a Ph.D., and at least a few of those years will be spent writing a dissertation." About Dissertation “Dissertation” is taken directly from the Latin “dissertātiōn,” meaning “discourse” or “disquisition.” It is closely related to the Latin “dissertāre,” meaning “dispute” or “discuss.” Did You Know? In its earliest appearances in English, “dissertation” referred to pointed conversation and debate, as implied by its Latin root meaning “discourse” and “disquisition.” As time passed, “dissertation” no longer referred to a debate between two or many people in person, or even in print, but it specifically meant a long and detailed written argument, usually by a single author. The modern “dissertation” is generally a book-length piece of research and argument presented by a Ph.D. candidate at the end of their degree as a summary of the whole of their learning. In most cases, a Ph.D. candidate must “defend” their dissertation before a panel of professors, a process that recollects to the dispute and discussion meanings of the word.
  12. Fact of the Day - Who hears Better Than You? Did you know... The animals with the best range of hearing. In the natural world, survival depends on two requirements: getting enough food and avoiding predators. Many animals have honed their abilities in unique ways so they can survive and thrive. Have you ever wondered how humans’ ability to hear compares to other species? Let’s take a look at five animals with great hearing in comparison to humans. (Miracle-Ear | Last update on April 21, 2021) Animals With an Amazing Sense of Hearing by Animals Fun Facts | ------ Animals often have an incredibly good hearing, but not all of them use their ears to hear. There are even animals that don’t have ears but can still hear. 1. African Elephant The African elephant has the biggest ears. But why? Maybe so their trunks don’t look as big? Just kidding! But they must use them to hear, right? Not quite. Their ears are like giant fans. When the sun burns its skulls and the air starts to shimmer in the heat, the elephant pumps blood into its ears. It then flaps them around and the cooled blood flows back into its body. It’s like holding your wrist under cold water. African forest elephants and Asian elephants have considerably smaller ears, as they live under tropical forest canopies. 2. Fennec Fox The fennec fox is a desert fox. It might only be 15.7 inch (40 cm) tall, but its ears are 15 cm long! They can hear almost anything, even a beetle crawling over the sand. The fennec also uses its ears like the elephant does - to cool down. 3. Bat The Brown long-eared bat has the biggest ears in comparison to its body size. The bat bat hears tones that people can’t hear at all. The animal only grows to 1.9 inch (5 cm) in length but has 1.5 inch (4 cm) long ears. This would be like a human having 55.1 inch (140 cm) long ears. Maybe Little Red Riding Hood saw a bat when she said “What big ears you have!”. 4. Owl Owls have unusual hearing equipment. You can hardly see them, but the barn owl has one ear that’s higher than the other. On purpose! Active at night, these silent flying owls can pretty much hear in 3D. One ear hears upwards, the other downwards. 5. Lynx The lynx’s wonderful hairs have a special purpose. They are like antenna, directing sound into the ears. This works so well that it can hear sounds from a whole kilometer away. 6. Goldfish Hearing isn’t always a blessing. The goldfish could sing a song about it. Or blub a song? When it gets too loud, they quickly get stressed and simply close their ears. 7. Worms, Snails, Snakes If an animal doesn’t have ears that point up, you might think that it can’t hear. But that’s not quite true. They might not have outer ears like people do, but they have different organs that they use to hear sounds. In the form of waves (like when your phone buzzes in your pocket). But all animals that can hear have one thing in common: they can go deaf. Due to bacteria, illness or injury. Even a gust of air can be dangerous. If you blow into a dog’s ear, you can damage its sensitive hearing. Source: Animals with the Best Hearing | Facts About Animal Hearing
  13. What's the Word: CENATORY pronunciation: [SEN-ə-tor-ee] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Latin, 17th century Meaning: 1. Related to evening dinner or supper. Example: "Carl had what he called his “cenatory suit,” a dinner jacket he wore only to formal suppers." "My brother always seemed to disappear at the cenatory hour, seemingly hiding from my mother’s calls to come inside." About Cenatory “Cenatory” is a modernization of the Latin “cēnātōrius,” meaning that which referred to dinner or the dining table. “Cēnātōrius” is closely related to the Latin verb “cenare” (meaning “to dine”) and the noun “cena,” meaning “dinner.” Did You Know? “Cenatory” entered English as an invention of Sir Thomas Browne (1606-1682), who also coined the words “medical,” “electricity,” “carnivorous,” “prairie”, “ferocious” — and nearly 800 others. Browne was a respected author, philosopher, and scientist who helped develop modern approaches to science as part of the 17th-century “scientific revolution.” He was especially known for skeptically applying an early form of the scientific method to question subjects like the existence of unicorns. In all his writings, Browne took pleasure in creating new English words out of Latin roots, and “cenatory” is one of hundreds of words Browne invented.
  14. Fact of the Day - WORLD'S POPULATION Did you know.... In 1987, the world population hit an all-time high of 5 billion. Two years later, on 11 July, the United Nations General Assembly established World Population Day to highlight the "urgency and importance of population issues". The world has come a long way since then. According to Worldometers, we hit a population of 7.8 billion people as of July 2020. (BY CONDÉ NAST TRAVELLER | 11 July 2020) Surprising Facts About the World’s Population by Interesting Facts As of 2022, there are 7.9 billion people living on Earth — an especially astounding fact when you consider that a little over two centuries ago, the planet crossed the 1 billion mark for the first time. Studying global population trends isn’t just a fascinating endeavor — understanding the growth (or decline) in the Earth’s populations helps researchers to better predict conditions in the future. From the most-populated continent to a municipality with just one person, here are 13 fascinating world population facts that may surprise you. 1. The Majority of Earth’s Human Population Lives in One Hemisphere Although the Earth’s hemispheres are equal in geographic size, the Earth’s population is not divided similarly. Roughly 90% of Earth’s human population lives in the Northern Hemisphere, which also accounts for most of the planet's landmass. The Northern Hemisphere is made up of 39.3% land (the rest is ocean) and also contains many of the world’s most-populated cities, while the Southern Hemisphere only is 19.1% land. 2. Over Half of the World’s Population Lives on a Single Continent Earth’s continents are similarly unequal in population distribution — it’s estimated that 60% of Earth’s population (4.7 billion people) lives in Asia. Made up of 48 countries, Asia is also home to the two most populous nations in the world, China and India. China is estimated to currently have 1.44 billion people living in the country, while India is not far behind with an estimated 1.40 billion residents. Together, the two countries account for over half of Asia’s total population. 3. Japan Is Home to the World’s Most-Populated City China and India may be the nations with the highest population, but Japan is home to the most populated city. In 2022, the population of the Tokyo metropolitan area is estimated to be an astounding 37.7 million people, with 13.96 million living in the city itself. To compare, greater Tokyo’s population is almost equivalent to the total sum of the 25 most populated cities in the U.S., which adds up to 37.8 million people. It’s also 1.5 times larger than the next most populous metro area, Seoul. 4. Monaco Has the World’s Densest Population Monaco may be the second-smallest country by geographical size, but it does have the world’s densest population. With a population of 39,000 people spread across just three-quarters of a square mile, Monaco has a population density of about 50,000 people per square mile. If you were to consider both independent countries and territories, the Chinese territory of Macau is even more dense, with over 51,000 people per square mile. 5. Katy, Texas, Has the Most-Populated ZIP Code in the U.S. California might be the most-populated state in the U.S., but Texas is home to the most populated ZIP code. The Texan ZIP code of 77449 has a population of 128,294 people and belongs to Katy, Texas, a suburb located 30 miles west of Houston. Interestingly, the second most-populated ZIP code in the states also belongs to Katy, with 118,291 residents in the 77494 ZIP code. Five of the top 10 ZIP codes by population are located in the Lone Star State. 6. Over Half of Indonesia’s Population Lives on a Single Island Although the archipelago of Indonesia has a total of 17,508 islands, more than half of the nation's total population resides on the island of Java. Home to the capital city of Jakarta, Java is the most-populated island in the world, with 145 million residents. To put that into context, that’s 17 times more people than all of New York’s five boroughs, which are home to a total of 8.4 million people. 7. There’s a Town in Nebraska With a Population of 1 In the lonesome grasslands of Nebraska near the South Dakota border lies the municipality of Monowi. The town’s sole resident is Elsie Eiler, a woman in her 80s who is the town’s mayor, clerk, librarian, and treasurer. As Monowi is an incorporated town for the purposes of the U.S. Census, Eiler receives state funding for municipal road work. However, she has to raise her own funds for the town’s taxes to pay for the street lighting and water. 8. Nepal’s Population Has the Highest Percentage of Women Women account for 54.5% of the total population in Nepal, with roughly 2 million more women than men in the South Asian country. One of the primary causes of this high population rate is the country’s life expectancy, with Nepalese women typically outliving Nepalese men. Another reason is the fact that Nepalese men often move abroad for work, while the women usually stay at home. 9. Wyoming Is the Least-Populated State in the U.S. In the last U.S. Census, Wyoming remained the least populated state in the U.S., with a population of approximately 580,000 residents. The state’s most populous city is Cheyenne, home to about 65,000 people, while the town of Owl Creek has the lowest population with a mere four residents. Housing 5.9 people per square mile, Wyoming is far from congested, especially when compared to California, which has 240.5 people per square mile. 10. Niger Has the Highest Birth Rate and the Youngest Population The West African country of Niger has the highest birth rate in the world: Between 2015 and 2020, the average woman in Niger gave birth seven times. Unsurprisingly, this means that Niger has a very young population, with a median age of 15. In fact, with an estimated population of 22.93 million, roughly half of the people who live in Niger are under the age of 14. 11. In 2050, Earth Will Have 10 Billion Human Inhabitants In less than 30 years, the world’s population is projected to grow by 2.2 billion people, from 7.8 billion in 2020 to a whopping 10 billion in 2050. This estimation is based on the current global fertility rate, which averages 2.3 births per woman, as well as other population indicators that are tracked in 200 countries around the world. By 2050, many countries in Africa will have doubled their populations, with some countries (such as Angola) expected to increase by a whopping 150%. 12. The World Is Growing at a Slower Pace Than It Used To The world population currently grows by an estimated 1.05% to 1.1% per year. However, this is a significant decrease from just 60 years ago, when the world’s annual growth was 2.2% per year. Despite this decline, the world’s population has steadily increased over the past 200 years. Since 1800, the world’s population has increased from 1 billion to 7.9 billion, largely thanks to advances in the medical and agricultural industries. 13. By 2050, Half of the World’s Population Growth Will Be Concentrated in Nine Countries While many countries are shrinking in population, others are growing at much faster rates, leading to unequal distribution of global population growth. In fact, just nine countries are predicted to make up more than 50% of population growth by 2050. According to the United Nations, these countries are India, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Indonesia, Egypt, and the United States. The same report by the U.N. also revealed that the world’s population continues to grow older, as life expectancy increases across the globe. Source: Facts About the World's Population | World Population Facts
  15. What's the Word: PARENTHESIZE pronunciation: [pə-REN-thə-sahyz] Part of speech: verb Origin: French, 16th century Meaning: 1. Put (a word, phrase, or clause) into parentheses. 2. Insert as a parenthesis; express or state in parenthesis. Example: "The front desk clerk said the kitchen closed at 8 p.m. but parenthesized we could call her if we needed anything." "Harry told us he was on a diet but parenthesized that he made exceptions for fresh pie." About Parenthesize The verb “parenthesize” is a variation upon the English noun “parenthesis,” with the suffix “-ize” making the noun a verb. “Parenthesis” is based on the Ancient Greek “παρένθεσις” (“parénthesis”), meaning “I put in beside.” Did You Know? In written English, a parenthesis is a secondary idea added to a complete sentence as an afterthought or explanation, usually set off in punctuation by parentheses marks. But even in conversation, any idea that is added to a complete thought as a means of explaining or contextualizing it can be called a “parenthesis.” Therefore, any time a person introduces a secondary idea into a text, they’re parenthesizing, but so is a person who makes a statement and then adds an aside to further contextualize it. For example, a schoolteacher stating the rules for their class may parenthesize vocally by adding a list of the circumstances in which the rules do not apply.
  16. Fact of the Day - BOARD GAMES Did you know... Chances are good that you've blown the dust off your stash of trusty board games. Chances are also good that your stash includes Monopoly, Scrabble, Clue, and other classics that have endured for decades, becoming cultural touchstones for generations. But how much do you really know about your favorite board games? Here are plenty of tidbits you can use to impress (and distract) your opponents during the next round of fun. (Saundra Latham | March 30, 2020) A Brief History of Board Games by Interesting Facts Despite spending most of their days trying to survive and thrive, early people across the globe needed something actually fun to do with their spare time … much like people today. Made from stone, bones, and other handy materials, early games weren’t too far off the ones we play today. And while humans eventually transitioned from stick-based games to those with dice, and later boards, the earliest games show that humans haven’t changed all that much in a quest for good-intentioned victory over family and friends. 1. History’s Oldest Board Game Senet, a creation of ancient Egyptians, takes its place in gaming history as one of the earliest known board games. Dating to at least 3100 BCE and featured prominently in Egyptian texts and hieroglyphs, Senet was played by all levels of Egyptian society with an ever-evolving set of house rules determined by players. The game board sat atop a rectangular box with etched spaces on top, where players moved pieces through a series of actions that resembled Egyptians’ beliefs in life after death. (Nicer game boards even included a storage drawer to stow pieces after the otherworldly game was finished.) And while surviving versions of Senet — many with intricate designs and colors, leading archaeologists to believe they were owned by wealthier players — show a variety of gameplay scenarios, historians have no idea what the exact rules were or how the game was played. 2. Other Ancient Board Games Board games weren’t popular with just Egyptians; other ancient cultures created their own games to pass the time. The Royal Game of Ur had Sumerian players in the Mesopotamian city of Ur roll a four-sided die with the hopes of moving all their game pieces to the end of the board first. Recovered game boards date the Royal Game of Ur to around 2600 BCE, and while some instructions for the two-player game exist, they’re incomplete, making it difficult for historians to understand all the rules and strategies. Backgammon, still played today, is believed to be around 5,000 years old. Also known by its old-world name, “tables,” it’s been documented as a favored game of Roman Emperor Nero, and mentioned in works by Chaucer and Shakespeare. And beginning around 4,000 years ago, winners of the game Go (also called Wei-chi) triumphed by surrounding their competitor’s game pieces and removing them from the board. Go is still played today, and has become modernized with online matches. 3. Modern Classics When you think about classic board games, you probably aren’t naming those early civilization amusements. Modern gamers of all skill levels are likely to name off Monopoly, Scrabble, and Sorry! as popular classics played by generations of families. But how did these 20th-century games become so popular? You can thank the Great Depression. Games such as The Landlord’s Game (Monopoly’s earliest rendition, created by Elizabeth Magie) existed nearly 30 years before the Great Depression, but the 1930s’ combination of time, indoor lighting, and limited funds generated new interest in board gaming. During a time when many were out of work, families looked for inexpensive ways to pass the time together. Tabletop games began to flourish in the U.S. during the 1930s, with manufacturers such as Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley creating a slew of games. Sorry!, created and trademarked months before the stock market crash of 1929, thrived during the Depression (though the game isn’t an original idea — it’s based on Parcheesi, which was first introduced in 1867). And Monopoly, a retooled version of Magie’s patented game, was popularized by Charles Darrow, a businessman who sold his version to Parker Brothers during the 1930s. Scrabble creator Alfred Mosher Butts turned to board game inventing after losing his job as an architect, though his hard work — originally called Criss Cross Words — didn’t gain popularity until the 1950s, when it was sold to Hasbro. 4. Booming Board Game Business If you thought that video games would mean the end of board games, think again. A resurgence in unplugged gaming has led more people to seek out a growing number of new board games. The number of published games has been on the rise since 2000, with more than 3,400 games published in 2015. And while countless board games have sought their way to the top of best-selling games lists, the top seller most years is often a return to basics — chess, checkers, or backgammon. It’s proof that older games, while often less flashy and perhaps a little dated, have a way of outlasting the competition. Source: Fun Facts About Your Favorite Board Games | Facts about Board Games
  17. What's the Word: SCINTILLATION pronunciation: [sin-tə-LEY-shən] Part of speech: noun Origin: French, 16th century Meaning: 1. A flash or sparkle of light. 2. (Astronomy) The twinkling of the stars, caused by the earth's atmosphere diffracting starlight unevenly. Example: "We could see the scintillation of the city’s lights from the top of the mountain." "Arlene sat on her roof on clear summer nights and enjoyed the scintillation of the stars." About Scintillation “Scintillation” is taken directly from the same word in French, which itself is based on the Latin “scintillation,” meaning “sparkling” or “twinkling.” Did You Know? In everyday English, the word “scintillating” describes the bright thoughts and wit of a clever person, or the dazzling talent of a skilled individual. The word “scintillation” is closely associated with “scintillating,” though it is rarely used as a metaphor. Rather, “scintillation” refers specifically to flashes of light, particularly light that is sparkling or twinkling rather than constant. One might describe an evening of conversation as “scintillating,” but “scintillation” could be used for the flicker of the candles at the dinner party.
  18. Fact of the Day - GRAVITY Did you know... Gravity in Canada’s Hudson Bay area is weaker than in other parts of the world. Earth is far from the perfect “blue marble” we like to picture. In reality, our planet is filled with deep trenches, towering mountains, and centrifugal bulges that make its mass uneven across the globe — and that unequal distribution can really mess with gravity. One famous example is the Hudson Bay region in northeastern Canada, where gravity reaches some of its weakest levels in the entire world. These levels aren’t extraordinarily low — residents weigh only one-tenth of an ounce less than they would elsewhere — but it’s enough for scientists to take notice and wonder why this particular area experiences gravity differently. The force of gravity is calculated using mass and distance. To put it simply, the mass of the Earth, combined with our proximity to its surface, is why we feel gravity the way we do. This is also why astronauts experience lower gravity as they move farther away from the Earth’s surface. Because we experience the Hudson Bay anomaly while still on Earth, that must mean the area somehow has less mass. It turns out there’s not only one, but two reasons for this. The first is a process in the Earth’s mantle (found 60 to 124 miles beneath the planet’s surface) called convection, in which super-hot magma moves continuously in a circular motion, sinking and rising back up again — and pulling tectonic plates with it. One of these sinking currents occurs in the Hudson Bay region, and could account for an estimated 55% to 75% of its “missing” gravity. The second reason takes us back 20,000 years to the last ice age, when much of North America was covered by a nearly 2-mile-thick glacier called the Laurentide Ice Sheet. Its massive bulk, especially around Hudson Bay where the glacier formed huge domes, compressed rock into the Earth’s mantle and created a giant indent with less mass. Scientists have confirmed that gravity is slowly increasing in the area as the Earth rebounds (at about half-an-inch per year) from this glacial trauma, but residents of the Hudson Bay region will still experience some gravity-induced weight loss for the next 5,000 years or so. Gravity travels at the speed of light. Traveling 186,000 miles a second, light takes only about eight minutes to traverse the 93 million miles between the sun and the Earth. It’s the fastest thing known to science — well, one of the fastest. Gravity also travels through space at the speed of light, as hypothesized by Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. However, gravity is much harder to measure than light, in part because it’s a much weaker force, and because scientists can’t just turn it on and off while scribbling notes. In 2003, nearly 90 years after Einstein first shared his grand theory, scientists from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) used a once-in-a-decade celestial alignment to measure the speed of gravity. As the massive bulk of Jupiter passed in front of a specific quasar (very bright young galaxies located very far away), scientists measured how the quasar’s radio waves bent around the gas giant. Because the amount of bending depended on how quickly gravity propagated around Jupiter, NRAO scientists could finally determine its speed. The fact that light and gravity move at the same speed means that if the sun were to instantly vanish, Earth would still enjoy about eight minutes of sunshine while orbiting around, well, nothing — before being slingshot into the cold vastness of space. (Interesting Facts) Mind Blowing Facts About Gravity Gravity is one of the fundamental forces of nature, but some believe it can actually be an illusion. by Christopher McFadden | March 31, 2019 Gravity is one of the most studied phenomena in science. It is also a fundamental force of the universe, but what is it? SEE ALSO: SCIENTISTS LEVITATE PARTICLES WITH SOUND TO DEFY GRAVITY We experience it every single day of our lives, and in fact, without gravity, your body would soon undergo some interesting changes. Yet gravity might not be as simple as you might first think. What is gravity theory? According to NASA, gravity is: -"the force by which a planet or other body draws objects toward its center. The force of gravity keeps all of the planets in orbit around the sun." Put simply, anything that has a mass of any kind will exert or be under the influence of gravity. Objects with larger mass have more gravity and the force gets weaker the further you are from a center of mass. It is because of gravity that things fall to the ground and is the very reason we have weight. If you were to travel to a planet with less mass than Earth you would actually weigh less, and vice versa for planets with larger mass. Is gravity real? Whilst the above definition is simple and intuitive, gravity might not be so simple. It has been one of the most studied phenomena in physics and the more we learn about it, the less it seems to make sense. In fact, it is one of the least understood of all the fundamental forces of nature. Whilst on the grander scale (like the solar system), gravity seems to work just fine, at the quantum level it appears to break down. It seems that gravity might actually be an illusion... 1. Gravity isn't actually a force Whilst this might seem a little counterintuitive, gravity might not actually be a force at all. According to Albert Einstein, gravity is actually more of a consequence of something else rather than a force in its own right. Einstein's theories proposed that space-time is actually bent by massive objects, like planets and suns. This phenomenon distorts the path of objects through space-time creating the effect that we see and feel as gravity. 2. Your favorite fridge magnet is stronger than Earth's gravity It's amazing to think that that tiny magnet is able to defy the gravity of an entire planet. Gravity is the weakest of the so-called fundamental forces in physics. It also pales in comparison to the electromagnetic force that holds the magnet onto the fridge. This makes complete sense when you think about it. Other forces, like the strong nuclear force in the nuclei of the atoms of the magnet, are also vastly superior in strength to Earth's gravity. It is also unable to defeat the weak nuclear force of atoms that are responsible for radioactive decay. 3. Some massive objects can actually make gravitational waves As previously mentioned, Einstein's theories describe how massive objects distort space-time. As these objects move that should, according to Einstein, create ripples in the very fabric of space. You can liken this to a water boatman skating across the surface of a pond. Whilst this was purely theoretical for many decades, we have actually been able to detect these waves in recent years. Notably back in 2007, the Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to 3 scientists for just that. They were able to observe a collision between two black holes about 1.8 Billion light years away. These black holes are massive indeed with one being 31 times the mass of our sun and the other 25 times. The collision converted the mass of about 3 suns into gravitational-wave energy in the fraction of a second! 4. Gravity on Earth actually varies The Earth is not a perfect sphere. It also has lots of lumps and bumps in the form of mountains, and deep gorges. The composition of the Earth is also not uniform around the world. Different rock types, concentrations of minerals, and geography all collude to create pockets of varying average density in all over the place. This directly affects gravity at different places on the Earth's surface. This can be measured with relative ease, and organizations like NASA have actually mapped this effect from space. Using a pair of satellites that work in tandem, they were able to measure the relative pull of the Earth's gravity as they travel around the planet. Called the GRACE satellites, NASA was able to produce an interesting "bumpy" model of Earth's gravity. 5. Quantum mechanics and gravity are at odds Quantum mechanics helps us explain how atoms, molecules, and other fundamental particles interact. Einstein's theory of general relativity, on the other hand, helps explain how things work on the mega-scale. But the problem is these two realms of physics don't seem to fit together. Whilst a lot of work has been carried out to fix this issue, it is still one of the biggest challenges of modern physics. It is likely that this is because, as we have previously mentioned, gravity isn't actually a force per se. Source: Facts About Gravity | Gravity Facts
  19. What's the Word: RORIFEROUS pronunciation: [roh-RIF-ə-rəs] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Italian, 16th century Meaning: 1. Producing or generating dew Example: "Before dawn, the roriferous clouds rolled in from the ocean." "The roriferous fog left the grass heavy with morning dew." About Roriferous “Roriferous” is based on the Italian word “rorifero,” which is based on the Latin “rōrifer.” That word is a combination of the Latin “rōs,” meaning “dew,” and “ferō,” meaning “carry.” The English word “roriferous” has the suffix “ous,” meaning “an abundance of.” Did You Know? “Rore” has never been a common word for “dew,” though “rory” was a popular poetic synonym for “dewy” from the 16th to 18th century. “Roriferous” is actually the most popular word built on this root, but there aren’t many other words that precisely describe the state of generating or encouraging dew. The word “dewy” exists, but only describes the presence of dew. By contrast, “roriferous” describes the characteristic of attracting or producing dew.
  20. Fact of the Day - COUNTRIES AROUND THE WORLD by Reflections & Advice | July 7, 2021 Did you know... If you’re looking for interesting trivia about countries, or simply looking to appreciate some interesting facts about different countries, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find 15 fun facts about countries that blew me away, and might just do the same for you. At times, my endless curiosity perpetuates itself in peculiar ways. For example, one fine afternoon I spent my time (and some would argue “wasted my time”) searching the internet for intriguing and obscure facts that I hadn't yet encountered about countries around the world. You know, travel trivia question of the day type stuff, or trying to amuse myself with weird facts about countries on the planet of ours. It occurred to me that I really ought to turn this into an article, if only to pass along some of the country facts that I came across that wowed me. You may even be able to use some of these facts if you’re putting together fun trivia about countries, but perhaps you’re just looking to be amused, and that’s perfectly fine as well, of course. If you’re keen on this sort of article, you might also like my article on ancient travel quotes worth remembering, or the 50 most inspiring travel quotes. Without further adieu, here are 15 interesting facts about countries around the world that I thought were too interesting not to be shared. 1) NAURU IS, TECHNICALLY, HOME TO THE MOST OVERWEIGHT PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. This small island nation in Oceania, officially known as the Republic of Nauru, statistically has the most overweight populous on the planet. Obesity afflicts for 97% of men and 93% of women in Nauru. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that prior to being called the Republic of Nauru, it was called "Pleasant Island.” Not many people even know this country exists. It’s a tiny island in Micronesia, a subregion of Oceania. Nauru’s closest neighbor (300km away) is Banaba Island, which is part of another little-known island nation called the Republic of Kiribati. 2) AUSTRALIA IS THE ONLY CONTINENT IN THE WORLD TO HAVE NO ACTIVE VOLCANOES. There are remnants of volcanoes in Australia, but the last time one erupted was thousands of years ago. So, you can worry about being kicked in the face by a kangaroo, being attacked by spiders the size of small dogs, or coming face to face with the world’s most poisonous snakes, but you do not need to worry about dramatic volcano eruptions disrupting your vacation in the Outback. Hey, that seems like a fair trade, right? 3) ONE OF THE OFFICIAL ANTHEMS OF THE MICRO-NATION OF LADONIA IS THE SOUND OF A STONE THROWN INTO WATER. There are so many interesting facts about Ladonia that the brains of geography trivia nerds will probably explode! For starters, Ladonia is a 1 square kilometre plot of land inside a nature reserve in southern Sweden. It was founded in 1996 after a legal dispute over two large driftwood sculptures. Not a single citizen of Ladonia (apparently there were over twenty two thousand as of 2019) lives there, including the reigning Queen who is a US-born citizen still living in the United States. This country has a bizarre history that you could fill an entire round of travel trivia with. 4) ALL OF CHINA IS ON BEIJING TIME DESPITE GEOGRAPHICALLY SPANNING OVER 5 TIME ZONES. This is another doozy for geography trivia lovers. The single time zone across China, also called China Standard Time, spans 4800 kilometers. That’s about the same width as the continental United States. This causes all sorts of issues for the people living in China. For instance, if the sun rises at 6am on the far east side of the country, it does not rise until 10am for those in the west. Same goes for sunset, too. 5) AT 1896 KM, CANADA'S YONGE STREET IS THE LONGEST STREET IN THE WORLD. I was born and raised in Toronto, have written a lot about Ontario for this site, and run a sister site called Ultimate Ontario, so it would be troublesome if I didn’t know or include this one. Yonge Street starts in downtown Toronto and ends in Rainy River - a small town on the US border to Minnesota. Yonge Street held the Guinness-approved record of longest street in the world up until 1999 when the title was suddenly dropped. Some believe that Yonge Street ends much closer to the start in Keswick, a community on Cook’s Bay north of Toronto. Whatever you believe, Yonge Street is often the place to go for Toronto activities, and until anyone is officially told otherwise, this is the street that is getting the monicker for the longest street on the planet. On a side note, my Ebook, A Local Travel Writer’s Guide to Toronto is still for sale on my site. It’s currently retailing for $3.99, but you can get it for 50% off if you use the coupon code “INTERESTINGFACTS.” 6) NEW ZEALAND WAS THE FIRST SELF-GOVERNING NATION TO GIVE WOMEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE IN 1893 - A MOVE THAT WAS FOLLOWED TWO YEARS LATER BY ITS NEIGHBOUR AUSTRALIA. Is it just me, or does New Zealand seem to have more common sense than a lot of other nations? They came around to the obvious a lot quicker than the rest of us it would seem. It took two decades to win the fight, but the New Zealand suffragettes finally won. Since then, women have held positions in all key constitutional positions including prime minister, speaker of the House of Representatives, attorney general, and others (and as they should).. Just look at the way Jacinda Ardern has led the nation since 2017, especially through the pandemic, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a lot citizens anywhere on the planet who wouldn’t want someone like her at the helm. That, my friends, was a masterclass in leadership. 7) WITH ENORMOUS EXPANSES OF FOREST, RUSSIA PRODUCES THE MOST OXYGEN FOR THE PLANET. I bet you thought it was the Amazon, right? It’s actually the boreal forest, a coniferous forest (pine and spruce), not a tropical forest that produces the most oxygen on Earth. Also called the “Taiga Biome,” it covers huge swaths of land in Eurasia and North America between the 50th and 70th northern parallels, Russia being the largest. That was a country fact that totally surprised me, but I suppose it makes perfect sense when you consider the sheer size of the nation of Russia. THERE ARE 23 NATIVE LANGUAGES RECOGNIZED BY THE GOVERNMENT IN GUATEMALA. The official language of Guatemala is Spanish, but the 22 native languages of Maya, Xinca, and Garifuna citizens are officially recognized as well. I mean, I think that’s how it probably should be. As a Canadian, I’ve always been a bit disappointed that our two official languages are English and French, when we have an Indigenous history that precedes the arrival of the English and the French. Surely we could have a few more official languages, no? Anyway, back to Guatemala. The majority of the languages are Mayan, while the two exceptions, Garifuna and Xincan, have Caribbean and unknown origins, respectively. For reference, less than 1% of the total population of Guatemala speaks these two languages, so I suppose even more credit goes to Guatemala for including them. 9) SOUTH SUDAN IS THE MOST RECENT COUNTRY TO DECLARE INDEPENDENCE, WHICH HAPPENED ON JULY 9, 2011. South Sudan declared independence from Sudan after a decades-long violent civil war, and quickly gained international recognition and membership to the United Nations. Aside from South Sudan, Montenegro, Serbia, and East Timor have also gained undisputed independence in the 21st century. The Republic of Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008, which is still hotly contested by Serbia and only recognized by 103 (of 193) United Nations Member States. 10) SWITZERLAND CONSUMES THE MOST CHOCOLATE PER YEAR WITH APPROXIMATELY 10 KILOS A YEAR PER PERSON. Can anybody blame them? I certainly can’t. Every beautiful city in Switzerland appears to have an even more beautiful chocolate scene. Honestly though, why wouldn’t you partake in a delicious industry that your country helped pioneer? Since chocolate making began in Switzerland in 1819, they have continually worked to discover innovative new techniques. One Swiss chocolatier, Rodolphe Lindt, even patented his melt-in-your-mouth technique called “conching,” which is still used to make Lindt’s famous Lindor Truffles. I know that you know exactly what I’m talking about. 11) CANADA HAS THE MOST LAKES ON THE PLANET. LUCKILY, I'VE BEEN ABLE TO SWIM IN A FEW OF THEM. I touched upon this in my article for Ultimate Ontario on the top fun facts about Ontario, but yes, we’ve got a hell of a lot of lakes in this nation. Over 60% of all lakes in the world to be exact, including Lake Ontario, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Erie. Those are some pretty great lakes (get it?), but that doesn’t even scratch the surface. Altogether, there are upwards of 2 million lakes in Canada with a total land area of 10 million square kilometers. To put things in perspective, and here’s some fun travel trivia if I’ve ever heard it, there are more than 550 lakes in Canada larger than 100 square kilometres. That’s astonishing, right? 12) IF YOU COUNT OVERSEAS TERRITORIES, THEN IT IS ACTUALLY FRANCE THAT COVERS THE MOST TIME ZONES WITH A WHOPPING 12. French Polynesia, a territory of France located in the South Pacific Ocean, is actually 11 hours (or time zones) behind Paris. As you can imagine, it’s not France itself that all the timezones, but rather its various territories around the world. Most people automatically assume it would be China or Russia, and that makes this fun fact a good one to break out at a dinner party. 13) THE FIRST TIME IRELAND EVER WON AN OLYMPIC MEDAL WAS IN THE CATEGORY OF PAINTING. Yes, painting. The category doesn't exist anymore, of course, but while it did Jack B. Yeats received a silver medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics for his painting titled "The Liffey Swim.” The painting is displayed at the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin along side other works he’s created and several paintings done by his father, John Butler Yeats. 14) BOTH CHINA AND RUSSIA ARE BORDERED BY 14 COUNTRIES. China and Russia are such large countries that you almost forget that quite a few countries line their borders. Aside from each other, they share three other countries at their borders - Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and North Korea. Of all 24 countries involved, the shortest border length is the 17km border between North Korea and Russia, and the longest is the 7512km border between Russia and Kazakhstan. 15) RWANDA HAS THE HIGHEST PERCENTAGE OF WOMEN IN PARLIAMENT As of writing this, women occupy 61% of the seats in the Rwandan Parliament. Historically, only 20 seats were reserved for women in Parliament. Today, 49 of the 80 seats are filled by women because females dominate the total population. After the Rwandan Genocide in the early 1990’s, when upwards of 1 million Rwandans were killed, more than half the country's total population was female. A silver lining to an awful tragedy. Rwanda is a nation I’ve always wanted to visit, and I hope I’ll get that chance sooner rather than later. I’m told the nature, and particularly experiences like gorilla trekking, are absolutely astonishing. Note: This is not me speaking here. Source: Fun Facts About Countries Around the Globe
  21. What's the Word: PRIVY pronunciation: [PRIV-ee] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Anglo-Norman, 13th century Meaning: 1. Sharing in the knowledge of (something secret or private) 2. (archaic) Hidden; secret. Example: "My sisters and I made sure our mom wasn’t privy to our surprise-party plans." "My uncle’s office opened onto a room whose door appeared to be a privy bookcase." About Privy From the Anglo-Norman/middle French “prevé” (also “privié” or “privé”), which at various times has meant “intimate,” “reserved for only some people,” “secret,” and “isolated.” Did You Know? The most common form of “privy” in modern English is the adjective describing someone who shares in the knowledge of something secret or private, such as when a judge calls attorneys to the bench and has a conversation only they are privy to. But dating back to its entry into English in the 1200s, the word “privy” has also evoked the common outdoor toilet. The simple reason for this is that the early forms of the root-word “prevé” apply to outhouses. They are intimate, isolated places reserved for only some people — the inhabitants of a home, and their guests.
  22. Fact of the Day - PRINCESS DIANA Did you know... On August 31, 1997, the entire world mourned the passing of Princess Diana. Though she never found her happily-ever-after with Prince Charles (the couple divorced in 1996, just a year before her death), Diana remains an icon of strength and independence to women around the world. Here are 10 things you might not have known about the People's Princess. (Stacy Conradt | August 31, 2018 | Updated: August 31, 2020) Lesser-Known Facts About Princess Diana by Interesting Facts Diana, Princess of Wales, was — and arguably, still is — one of the most famous women in the world. From the time she began dating Prince Charles in 1980 to her tragic death in 1997 at age 36, she was constantly photographed by paparazzi, surrounded by crowds, and the subject of daily headlines, whether truthful or not. Detractors and fans alike scrutinized almost every facet of her life. "It took a long time to understand why people were so interested in me," Diana once said. While it feels like every detail about Diana’s short but famous life is well-known — thanks to a constant stream of books, articles, TV, and film projects — some stories haven’t grabbed as much attention. Here are eight lesser-known facts about the People’s Princess. 1. Baby Diana Waited a Week for Her Name When Diana was born on July 1, 1961, her parents had been hoping for a son. They already had two girls and had lost a baby boy who died shortly after his birth in January 1960. Her father, due to inherit an earldom, desperately wanted a male heir. Diana's parents were so focused on having a boy that they hadn't come up with names in case their newborn turned out to be a girl. A week passed before Diana was named Diana Frances Spencer. Frances honored her mother, while Diana was a nod to the Spencer family tree. 2. Diana Had Her Own Royal Heritage Before Diana married into the British royal family, she had her own royal connections via her ancestors; illegitimate offspring of Kings Charles II and James II had joined the aristocratic Spencer line. Thanks to her lineage, Diana actually had more English royal blood than Prince Charles, as the Windsors have strong Germanic ties. Charles' great-grandfather, King George V, changed the family name from Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Windsor in 1917, due to tensions with Germany during World War I. 3. Diana Left School at 16 When Diana was a 15-year-old student in June 1977, she took her O level (ordinary level) exams. These standardized tests are supposed to demonstrate mastery of different subjects; in Diana's case, English literature, English language, history, art, and geography. Unfortunately, she failed all these exams, perhaps due to anxiety or lack of studying. She then failed a second attempt at her O levels later that year. After her O level failures, Diana had to leave school when she was 16. Even after becoming a princess, she remembered this setback with a degree of shame. A 1985 documentary recorded her telling a boy at a children's home, "I never got any O levels: brain the size of a pea, I've got." 4. Diana Didn’t Say “Obey” in Her Marriage Vows Diana was only 20 when she wed Prince Charles, who was 12 years her senior. Despite being so young, she was willing to buck royal tradition when it came to her 1981 wedding vows. Other royal brides, even Queen Elizabeth II, had stuck to traditional Church of England wording from 1662 and promised to "obey" their husbands (men were not required to say they would obey their wives). Diana instead opted for the church's updated marriage service. At the altar, she told Charles she would "love him, comfort him, honor, and keep him, in sickness and in health." Though Diana never met future daughter-in-laws Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, they followed in her footsteps by omitting "obey" in their wedding ceremonies. 5. Diana Loved To Dance Dance was a longtime passion of Diana's. After years of ballet, tap, and ballroom lessons, she won a school dance competition in 1976. And she didn't abandon dancing when she became a princess. She even asked ballet dancer Wayne Sleep for lessons in the early 1980s; his schedule couldn't accommodate her, but he found a colleague to teach her. After seeing a performance of the musical Cats, Diana and Charles visited Andrew Lloyd Webber backstage. According to Webber's memoir, Charles remarked on the dancing and Diana demonstrated some splits herself. At the White House in November 1985, First Lady Nancy Reagan prompted John Travolta to ask Diana to dance; they impressed onlookers as they shared the floor in one of the famous photo ops of Diana’s life. In December 1985, Diana stunned Charles at the Royal Opera House — though not in a good way — with an onstage choreographed number with Sleep, set to Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" (an incident depicted on The Crown). Sleep later said, "She loved the freedom dancing gave her." 6. Diana Went Clubbing With Freddie Mercury According to actress Cleo Rocos, in the late 1980s she, Diana, comedian Kenny Everett, and rock star Freddie Mercury once got together to watch reruns of The Golden Girls, the sound muted so they could spice up the dialogue themselves. Diana then wanted to join the group on their outing to a gay bar that night. Some were hesitant, but Mercury said, "Go on, let the girl have some fun." Hidden by sunglasses and a cap, Diana was able to sneak into the bar. She remained unrecognized and, per Rocos, "She loved it." That wasn’t the only time Diana went under disguise for a night out on the town. Shortly before her sister-in-law Sarah Ferguson (aka Fergie) wed Prince Andrew on July 23, 1986, Diana, Fergie, and others donned police outfits and staged a fake arrest in front of Buckingham Palace for a bachelorette party prank. They were picked up by a police van, but released once the officers realized who their passengers were. After this, Diana and the gang, still in disguise, headed to a nightclub. They only left when they were recognized. 7. Diana Considered Starring in a Sequel to “The Bodyguard” After the success of 1992’s The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston, Kevin Costner wanted to replicate the successful formula in a sequel that would feature his bodyguard character watching over a post-divorce Diana instead of a popular singer. And, of course, the pair would fall in love. With help from Fergie, Costner was able to speak to Diana about the project. She was interested enough to discuss her lack of acting experience, and also asked if there would be "a “kissing scene." However, Diana passed away before anything came to fruition. 8. Diana Walked Through a Cleared Minefield ... Twice Following her divorce from Prince Charles, Diana decided to bring attention to the dangers and devastation of landmines. In January 1997, she traveled to Angola to meet with victims of these mines. She famously walked through a cleared — but still dangerous, should any explosives have been missed or improperly deactivated — path in an active minefield. But what some may not know is that when some photographers said they needed a second take, Diana didn't object — she walked through the field once more because she realized how important those images would be. Pictures of Diana made it to the front pages of papers around the world. Mike Whitlam of the British Red Cross said, "It was Diana's involvement in the anti-personnel landmines that made this appalling weapon of war a global issue and persuaded many countries to sign the Ottawa Convention. Her involvement made a real difference, not just to those people running the charities, but to those people who were helped by them." In 1997, after Diana's death, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to campaigners to ban landmines. Source: Fascinating Facts About Princess Diana | What Might Not Be Known About Princess Diana
  23. What's the Word: ARABLE pronunciation: [ER-ə-bəl] Part of speech: adjective Origin: Middle French, 15th century Meaning: 1. (of land) used or suitable for growing crops. Example: "The land at the back of the house is arable and ready for crops to be planted." "This county has twice as much arable land as its neighbors, which is why we have so many farms." About Arable From the French “arable,” it’s based on the Latin “arābilis,” meaning “capable of being plowed.” Did You Know? The amount of arable land — land suitable for growing crops — around the world has actually been growing over the past 50 years. As of 2019, the World Bank reported that 10.8% of the world’s land area was arable, up from 10% in 1972. Thirty years ago, the percentage of arable land around the world was 10.6% — meaning the world has only gained 0.2% of arable land area since that time, due to brief declines in the 1990s and 2000s caused partly by expanding cities and urban sprawl absorbing farmland.
  24. Fact of the Day - MICHAEL J. FOX Did you know.... Michael J. Fox’s middle name doesn't start with “J.” Stage names are hardly uncommon in Hollywood, but false initials are rarer — if not unheard of. To wit: Michael J. Fox’s middle name doesn’t start with “J.” The Back to the Future star’s middle name is actually Andrew, but there already was a Michael A. Fox in the Screen Actors Guild when Fox wanted to join it. So why the “J”? The letter is an homage to Michael J. Pollard, a character actor Fox admires. Pollard had more than 100 acting credits to his name by the time he died in 2019, and received Academy Award, BAFTA, and two Golden Globe nominations for his role as gas station attendant-turned-accomplice C.W. Moss in 1967’s Bonnie and Clyde. Some stage names are so successful that most people don’t realize they’re stage names. Sir Elton John was born Reginald Kenneth Dwight, for instance, while Jamie Foxx’s real name is Eric Marlon Bishop, and Whoopi Goldberg’s is Caryn Elaine Johnson — to name just a few. Fox, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 and announced his condition in 1998, retired from acting in 2020. He founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research in 2000 and remains devoted to finding a cure for the disease. Middle names date back to ancient Rome. Well, kind of. Many Romans had three names, but their second name wasn’t quite a middle name. There was the praenomen (personal name), nomen (family name), and cognomen, which indicated which branch of a family you were from. (For instance, Julius Caesar’s full name was actually Gaius Julius Caesar.) There was also a hierarchical element to the Roman naming system, as women generally only had two names and enslaved people often had only one. Middle names as we know them today arose in the Middle Ages, a time when faithful Europeans struggled between giving their children a family name or that of a saint. Eventually deciding that both would be preferable to one, they began the tradition of a child receiving a given name, baptismal name (saint’s name), and surname. That custom eventually reached America along with the people who emigrated there, with secular middle names becoming more common over time. (Interesting Facts) Random Facts About Michael J. Fox Fans Didn't Know by Sarah Kester | Updated September 8, 2021 Michael J. Fox is a true hero. The Back to the Future actor has faced a lot in his life, and yet, he still manages to smile through it all. This includes the rejection he first faced in Hollywood, alcohol addiction he had to overcome and his Parkinson's diagnosis. 1. He's Canadian. Yep, he's a Canuck! The actor was born in Edmonton, Alberta, on June 9, 1961. Mike, as he's known by family and friends, was the fourth of five children. His father was a sergeant in the Canadian Army and his mother was a payroll clerk. 2. He quit high school to pursue acting. This happened two years after he landed his first role on the Canadian sitcom, Leo and Me. When he moved to Los Angeles with his dad at 18, he eventually caught his big break as Alex P. Keaton on Family Ties in 1982. 3. He struggled to get jobs when he first moved to Hollywood. Like many actors when they first move to Hollywood, Michael faced his fair share of rejection. "People turned me down because I was too short and funny looking and I had a funny accent," he told Men's Health. 4. He met his wife, Tracy Pollan, on *Family Ties* Pollan played his character's girlfriend, on the show for a while. But they didn't start dating until they worked on the 1988 film Bright Lights, Big City together. They wed in 1988 and have four children together. 5. Being young and famous caused the actor to face some dark times. Just like Justin Bieber sings in "Lonely," there comes a price with having money and fame at an early age. For Michael, he found himself slipping into drinking and overspending. "By 21, I was earning six figures a week. By 23, I had a Ferrari," he told AARP. "It was nuts. I never stopped to figure that out." It was after he met his now-wife, Tracy Pollan, that he quit his bad habits. 6. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991. This is a brain disorder that causes the actor's body to never stop moving. When he was first diagnosed with the disorder, Fox felt incredibly alone. “It’s tough to see people feel like they have to share your experience, and they can’t share your experience," he told Channel Sunrise. 7. He turned to alcohol after he got his Parkinson's diagnosis at 29. “I just spun out again,” he told Men's Health. “I started to drink heavily, and it was screwing up my relationships and screwing up my marriage and screwing up my work.” When he woke up to his toddler poking his drunk body, he hit a turning point. The drink he had the night before ended up being the last drink he ever had. “The tools that worked for quitting drinking work even better for this, which are: acceptance and surrender,” Fox said. 8. Quitting alcohol also meant accepting his Parkinson's diagnosis. "With Parkinson’s, I’d reached a détente with it. An understanding. It was like, ‘You can take up this space, just leave me this space." This has worked wonders for the star, who has become an advocate for the disorder. 9. He helped Selma Blair through her multiple sclerosis battle. Since the actor has always been so public with his journey, Selma felt comfortable reaching out to him when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. This led to this adorable photo between the two. 10. His breakout movie role was in *Back to the Future*. While Family Ties got his foot in the Hollywood door, the time-traveling film cemented his status as a star. After all, the franchise has been around — and popular — since the 1980s. This means that it's considered a classic that's untouchable by fans. He even reunited with the film's cast in 2020. Ahead of the film’s upcoming 35th anniversary, actor Josh Gad hosted the cas for his YouTube series, Reunited Apart, which aims to raise money for coronavirus relief funds. Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown), Michael J.Fox, and Lea Thompson (Lorraine Baines-McFly), plus more, all joined in on the fun. To read more facts you didn't know about Michael J. Fox, click the link below. Source: Facts About Michael J. Fox | Random Facts You Might Not Know About Michael J. Fox
  25. What's the Word: VISAGISTE pronunciation: [viz-ah-JEEST] Part of speech: noun Origin: French, 20th century Meaning: 1. A make-up artist. Example: "Roseanne sat for an hour with a visagiste who applied her make-up perfectly before the show." "Shauna started her career as a visagiste, before she realized her true passion was styling hair." About Visagiste Directly from the French “visagiste,” it combines the French word “visage,” meaning “face,” and the suffix “-iste” (like the English “-ist”) suggesting “one who studies and practices a discipline.” Did You Know? A visagiste doesn’t just apply their own cosmetics, but they skillfully apply make-up to others in flattering and creative ways. Why not simply call themselves “make-up artists”? Most do, but so do some influencers with different levels of training and experience. Whether they’re trained professionals or passionate self-taught amateurs, those who call themselves “visagistes” might be making a statement about their expertise. They are experts of the face — the “visage” of the word’s French root — and how to flatter each face with cosmetics that celebrate its beauty.
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