Weekly Wrap Volume 15

This is a weekly wrap of our Daily Knowledge Newsletter. You can get that newsletter for free here.

turkey-strut-e1288834018876Why a Turkey is Called a Turkey

In the sixteenth century, when North American turkeys were first introduced en masse to Europe, there was another bird that was popularly imported throughout Europe and, most relevant to this article, England, called a guinea fowl.  This guinea fowl was imported from Madagascar via the Ottoman Empire. The merchants who… (more)

grave-robberThe Resurrectionists and the Doctor’s Mob Riot

Long before colonoscopies, mammograms and physicals (turn your head and cough), patients have had a love-hate relationship with doctors. Often uncomfortable (or downright awful), the procedures employed by physicians are frequently met with distrust and revulsion (until those methods achieve desired results). This was no different during the early years of modern medicine when one practice in particular, human dissection, stirred the… (more)

the-stache-340x247The British Military Used to Require All Soldiers to Have Moustaches

Command No. 1,695 of the King’s Regulations read: “The hair of the head will be kept short. The chin and the under lip will be shaved, but not the upper lip…”  If a soldier shaved his moustache, he faced disciplinary action by his commanding officer which could include imprisonment, an especially unsavory prospect in the Victorian era. Initially, this follicular fashion statement was all about… (more)

twin-girlsThe Twins Born 87 Days Apart

Maria Jones-Elliot of Waterford, Ireland, was just 23 weeks pregnant when she went into labour with her twins in 2012. She was understandably worried—it isn’t until 24 weeks that doctors now consider a pregnancy viable (that is, the baby could potentially live outside of the womb with a lot of medical intervention), and 40 weeks is the normal gestation period. These babies wanted out early, and doctors weren’t sure that they were going to be able to save them. When Amy was born nearly four… (more)

nuclear-launchFor Nearly Two Decades the Nuclear Launch Code at all Minuteman Silos in the United States Was 00000000

We guess the first thing we need to address is how this even came to be in the first place. Well, in 1962 JFK signed the National Security Action Memorandum 160, which was supposed to ensure that every nuclear weapon the US had be fitted with a Permissive Action Link (PAL), basically a small device that ensured that the missile could only be launched with the right code and with the right authority. There was particularly a concern that the nuclear missiles the United States had stationed in other countries, some of which… (more)

Bonus Quick Facts:

  • Twinkies were created in 1930 as ladyfinger-shaped spongecakes.   They were first thought up by James A. Dewar, the vice president of Continental Bakeries who sold under the Hostess brand.  Dewar sought to put the machines used to make cream filled strawberry shortcake to good use when strawberries were out of season and the machines normally sat idle.  So he got an idea to create a banana cream filled cake.  That’s right.  Originally, Twinkies were filled with banana cream, which I suppose explains why they chose to make them look as they do.
  • Weird Al Yankovic has a degree in architecture.  After graduating from college with that degree, Weird Al decided he didn’t like architecture and so applied for a job at McDonald’s, but was ultimately rejected due to being overqualified.  He later got a job in a mail room.
  • The voice behind the Jolly Green Giant’s “Ho, Ho, Ho” in the commercials for General Mills is Elmer Dresslar Jr.  Along with being a voice actor and vocalist, Dresslar Jr. was also a jazz singer in “The Singers Unlimited”. He also recorded several other jingles for other famous brands besides General Mills including Amoco, Dinty Moore, Marlboro and Rice Krispies cereal.
  • The ancient Romans once used dolphins to help them fish.  The dolphins were trained to drive fish towards fishermen.  Once a large enough group of fish was near the fisherman, the dolphins would signal the fishermen to cast their nets.   Today, this practice can still be observed in places like Santa Catarina, Brazil.
  • Rum helped spur the American Revolution as well as the Australian Rum Rebellion.  It is estimated that around 3 gallons of rum were consumed per person per year in the American colonies shortly before the American Revolution.   Rum production was also colonial New England’s largest industry.  The passing of the Sugar Act in 1764, also known as the American Revenue Act, drastically disrupted the economy of many of the American colonies, particularly hitting the rum industry hard.  Among other things, this act resulted in the colonies having to increase the price on their rum, which allowed the British West Indies to increase their market share of the sale of rum.  This act, along with the later Stamp Act, enraged some of the colonists and helped establish the “no taxation without representation” that eventually became a rallying cry for the revolutionists.
  • The Australian Rum Rebellion took place after the governor of New South Wales, William Bligh, in 1806 decided to outlaw rum as a medium of economic exchange.  This resulted in the New South Wales Corps turning on him and holding him under arrest.  The Corps then ran the island for four years until Governor Lachlan Macquarie arrived.

Other Interesting Stuff:

doohan-e1289913592959The Actor Who Played “Scotty” on Star Trek Was Shot Six Times on D-Day

Doohan, a Canadian, after leading his men through a mine field on Juno beach and personally taking out two German snipers in the process, eventually took four rounds in one of his legs; one in his hand, which ultimately resulted in him losing his middle finger; and one in the chest.  The shot to the chest likely would have been fatal except that he had a silver cigarette case there, given to him by his brother, which deflected the bullet.  He would later give up smoking, but at least he could say that being a smoker actually saved his life. Ironically, the shots he took were not fired by the enemy, but rather by an overzealous Canadian gunman.  After his… (more)

banana-peel-slipThe Origin of the “Slipping on a Banana Peel” Comedy Gag

There are some things in this world that are just inherently funny; a pie in the face, an unexpected squirting flower, and a kitten in a shark costume riding a roomba chasing after a duck are just a few of the best examples. But nothing has quite become the staple of physical comedy as the “slipping on a banana peel” gag. Physical comedy, when humor arises from physical acts (i.e. pratfalls, weird faces, or walking into things) rather than words, is the world’s oldest form of comedy, dating back at… (more)

murphyThe Man Who Held Off Six Enemy Tanks and Several Waves of Infantry for an Hour By Firing on Them While Standing Atop a Burning Tank

Murphy was born on June 20, 1925 in Texas. His family was extremely poor, partially due to having twelve young mouths to feed. When his father abandoned the family when Audie was fifteen years old, he was forced to pick up some of the slack by hunting and doing what work he could to keep food on the table. Unfortunately, his mother died just a year after his father left. Shortly thereafter, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Audie attempted to join the various branches of the U.S. military… (more)

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