Weekly Wrap Volume 99

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

DuMont-cathod-tubeDustbin of History: The Other Network
You may not remember when TV was black and white. You may not remember when there were no remotes and you had to get up to change channels or adjust the volume. Even if you do, you still probably don’t remember the DuMont Network.Like a lot of people involved with the early development of television, Allen B. DuMont started in radio. In 1924 he was in charge of tube production at Westinghouse, the country’s largest radio manufacturer. But by 1928, after his innovations had increased daily tube production tenfold, DuMont got bored and wanted to try something new…(more)

brieIs it Safe to Eat Cheese Rinds?

Whether or not you should eat a cheese rind depends entirely on your taste, as even the most unpalatable rinds are in no way poisonous or dangerous to eat. Often imparting a unique and even complementary flavor, consuming the rind along with the headline act is frequently recommended for some cheeses. On the other hand, not everyone enjoys the flavor or texture of even the mildest rinds, and, in fact, several prominent cheese experts discourage rind consumption altogether. For those cheeses that have a rind, it may serve one or more purposes, such as imparting flavor, retaining moisture and protecting the cheese from air and the elements. Generally speaking, the harder the rind, the longer the cheese has aged…(more)

emmaForgotten History: the Story of Emma Sharp and the Barclay Challenge

In 1809, Captain Robert Barclay Allardice made a bet with one of his pedestrian rivals, Sir James Webster-Wedderburn, that he could walk 1,000 miles (about 1,609 kilometers) in 1,000 hours. The wager? 1,000 guineas. To get around the major problem of needing to rest, Barclay figured if he walked back to back miles–a mile at the end of one hour and another at the beginning of the next–and repeated this strategy throughout the race, he would be able to rest in approximately 90 minute intervals throughout the near 42 day long race. It worked. He completed the walk on July 12, 1809, 42 days after it commenced. The 1,000 miles in 1,000 hours walking feat became widely known as the “Barclay Match”. While any sort of race involving simply walking at a leisurely pace…(more)

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Bonus Quick Facts

  • In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon Jinn’s communicator is just a Sensor Excel Razor for Women that was slightly modified.
  • According to George Lucas, the original lightsaber was a very slightly modified flash attachment to a 4×5 camera that they took the flash part off of.
  • Mark Hamill currently holds the record for playing the Batman character of “Joker” longer than any other actor and in more spinoffs. “I’ve never seen him play the Joker”, you say? It’s because Hamill is one of the more prolific voice over actors in Hollywood, lending his vocal talents to over 100 different characters to date. Among these roles, he has been doing the voice of the Joker on a variety of animated TV shows, movies, and video games for over two decades. He got his start doing the Joker in the Emmy award winning 1992 Batman: The Animated Series. He’d previously done the voice for the character of Ferris Boyle in the Batman episode “Heart of Ice”, so when Tim Curry decided to opt out of doing the voice of Joker, they gave the role to Hamill. He’s been doing it ever since. As to the inspiration for his now famous version of the Joker, Hamill stated that he was going for a cross between Hannibal Lecter and Jerry Lewis.
  • The Lone Ranger’s sidekick’s name, Tonto, means “moron/fool/stupid” in Spanish. As a result, in the dubbed Spanish version, the character’s name is change to “Toro,” meaning “bull.”
  • The United States has been in debt every year in its history except very briefly for about a year around 1835 when the colorful Andrew Jackson was President. A few decades later, the Civil War happened and increased the national debt higher than it had ever been before as a percentage of the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP). After the war was over, the debt rapidly fell off to nearly nothing until WWI, which once again saw the national debt rise to Civil War era levels as a percentage of the GDP. Then the Great Depression and WWII happened, the latter seeing the national debt rise to an astounding near 110% of the GDP, a feat the U.S. hasn’t come close to matching since, even with the massive public debt today which is a little over 70% the GDP.
  • The patron saint of protecting against oversleeping is Saint Vitus, who is also the patron of dancers, epileptics, comedians, and actors. June 28th on the Gregorian calendar (traditionally June 15th by the Julian Calendar) is St. Vitus’ day, if you care to celebrate by oversleeping.
  • “Nathan” comes from Hebrew word nathan, literally meaning “he has given.” Jonathan comes from Hebrew Yonathan, short for Yehonathan, literally “the Lord has given.” So, essentially, Jonathan is just Nathan with the qualifier specifying who has given (Jehovah). And, if you were wondering, “John,” does not derive from Jonathan. Rather, it comes from Yohanan (short for y’hohanan) meaning “Jehovah has Favored,” with the root being “hanan” – “he was gracious.”

Other Interesting Stuff:

attacking-dogWhy We Say “SIC ’EM” to get Dogs to Attack

People have been telling dogs to “sic ’em,” with the intent to have the dog attack individual(s), since at least the nineteenth century. While this may seem odd given common modern definitions for “sick” or the variant “sic,” at the time this command popped up, it made perfect sense. “Sick,” in this context, had nothing to do with the word meaning “ill,” but rather was simply a dialectal variant of “seek,” which used to sometimes carry the connotation of seeking with the intent to attack. (This sense of the word “seek” was used as far back as around AD 1000 in the work, Beowulf.) The first known instance of someone instructing a dog to attack…(more)

XOXO2-340x226How “XOXO” Came to Mean “Hugs and Kisses”

You’ve seen XO as a sign-off representing love, affection, or friendship on letters, cards, emails, chat rooms and text messages. You may have even been torn on whether or not to include both the X and the O, considering one signifies hugs and the other means kisses. Use the incorrect symbol, and one could get the wrong idea! 😉 We can’t be 100% sure why or how XOXO ultimately came to mean “hugs and kisses”, but we do at least have a reasonably good theory to work with on the “X” part. Signing letters with an ‘X’ dates back to the Middle Ages. At this time, many couldn’t read or write, so this was an easy way for someone to sign something and, particularly in legal documents, assert that whatever was said in the document was true. Specifically, the X represented a Christian…(more)

roy-chapman-andrewsThe Real Life Indiana Jones: Roy Chapman Andrews

From the picture there on the right, you might mistake Andrews for Indiana Jones. In fact, Roy Chapman Andrews’ life is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, but without the Nazis. Not surprising, since it has been widely speculated that he was the man who Indiana Jones was based on. (Although, no one associated with the movies has officially confirmed this, and it’s thought by many that the link is indirect, with Andrews providing the model for many portrayals of adventurers in 1940s and 1950s films, which in turn influenced Lucas in his creation of the character of Indiana Jones). Born on January 26, 1884 in Beloit, Wisconsin, Andrews’ fascination with the natural world started at a young age. In This Business of Exploring, Andrews later wrote: “I was born to be an explorer…There was never any decision to make. I couldn’t do anything else and be happy.”…(more)

Newborn-340x252Are Some People Really Born With Tails?

To some extent the answer to the question of whether some humans are born with tails and how prevalent it is depends on your definition of “tail.” For instance, a variety of things may protrude from the tailbone of a newborn, including cysts, tumors and even a parasitic twin. But very rarely a human is born with an actual extra appendage that is generally considered a vestigial tail. During fetal development, the human embryo at about the 5th week has a tail that usually disappears by the 8th week, being absorbed by the growing embryo. However, for a rare few, the tail is not absorbed and persists through birth. Typically (for those exceptionally few born with tails)…(more)

sunscreen-340x340How the Sun Burns Your Skin and how Sunscreen Prevents This

Every summer we slather layers of sunscreen with the highest SPF we can find, and bravely venture outside hoping our slimy cloak will shield us from the sun’s death rays. So how does this work? To start off, what is a sunburn? In the medical world, a sunburn is known as erythema. Basically meaning the redness of skin caused by dilatation and congestion of the capillaries, and is often a sign of inflammation or infection. Several things can cause your skins capillaries to become inflamed. Things like infection, allergies, mercury toxicity, tweezing or pulling on your hair follicles, and of course, the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The ultraviolet (UV) rays that cause sunburns come in two forms. UV-A and UV-B. These rays, like all electromagnetic radiation, come in waves at specific frequencies. UV-A has wavelengths between 315-400 nanometers. UV-B wavelengths are between 280-315 nanometers. These wavelengths penetrate the skin and…(more)

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