Weekly Wrap 148
Does the U.S. President’s Dog Get Its Own Secret Service Agents?
Even before the U.S. president is elected such, if they’re considered a “major candidate” for the job, they get offered Secret Service protection. Whether they accept that protection or not, once elected until the day they die (unless they opt out after leaving office), they will be shadowed by an elite team of Secret Service agents. These individuals, while not actually sworn to do so (contrary to popular belief), are generally expected to, if necessary, give their lives to keep the president safe. While in office, this protection extends to a president’s immediate family. But does this ever include their family pet? Technically no. According to former Secret Service agent Dan Emmett, as noted in…(more)
Forgotten History: The First Movie and the Scientific Question it Sought to Answer
The first films were little more than what we would consider short clips, a boxer throwing a single punch or train arriving at a station– the type of scenes that today you might only see in the form of animated gifs. While popular perception is that movies got their start around the early twentieth century, the real seed that grew into the film industry came a few decades before that in Eadweard Muybridge’s truly revolutionary 1878 “Horse in Motion.” While it and hundreds of subsequent similar works Muybridge filmed wowed audiences the world over, this first film was not created to entertain, but to answer a question. For centuries, artists, horse enthusiasts and scientists alike had wondered: Do all four of a…(more)
This Week’s YouTube Videos (Click to Subscribe)
- The Great Stink of 1858
- Why is Poindexter Slang for Nerd? (and Where the Words Nerd and Geek Come From)
- Why are Some Pages “Intentionally Left Blank” and Why Do They Say This?
- The Great Emu War of 1932
- That Time When you Could Save Yourself From Being Executed by Beating the Executioner in a Foot Race
- You’re Probably Saying the “Ye” as in “Ye Olde Coffee Shoppe” Wrong
- That Time the Inventor of the Whac-A-Mole Accidentally Blew Up His Warehouse
Bonus Quick Facts
- On February 10, 1355 in Oxford, England, Walter Spryngeheuse and Roger de Chesterfield, two students at Oxford University, got in an argument with tavern owner John Croidon over the quality of the drinks he was serving. In the end, drinks were thrown in the face of Croidon, after which the two students attacked him. Soon the fight spread, with local townspeople on one side and Oxford students on the other, including the students assaulting the mayor of Oxford, John de Bereford. The riot lasted two days, leaving 63 students and about 30 locals dead and many more injured. For the next 470 years, the mayor of Oxford and its councilors had to march through the streets of Oxford on February 10th each year with bare heads, as well as give one penny annually for each of the students killed. This finally ended in 1825 when the mayor refused to do the penance.
- In 1893, an amendment was proposed to the U.S. Constitution trying to get the United States of America renamed the “United States of Earth.”
- According to research done on the roads of New Zealand, the common zebra striped crosswalk without any additional signaling actually increases the chances of pedestrians getting hit by a car by 28% over if the person had just Jaywalked. It is thought this is the case because pedestrians crossing in crosswalks are much less careful than those crossing the road elsewhere, even to the point that many people observed in studies don’t even bother to look if anyone is coming before entering a crosswalk. A similar study done in the United States on 1000 marked and unmarked popular crossing areas showed that marked locations had a much higher rate of pedestrian accidents than unmarked so long as there weren’t any other signals included with the crosswalk, such as a stop sign/light or flashing lights. They also found that including a raised “safety” median for pedestrians to stand in the middle of roads made no difference to the safety of the pedestrians regardless of the number of lanes on the road.
- Certain types of horned lizards are also able to squirt a directed stream of their own blood from the corners of their eyes at predators as much as 5 feet away. They accomplish this squirting action via severely restricting blood flow away from their heads, with the resulting increase in blood pressure in their heads bursting certain vessels near their eyes where the blood squirts from. What purpose does diminishing their own blood supply while giving the predator a taste serve? Well, it turns out to certain animals, such as cats and dogs, horned lizard blood tastes awful due to certain compounds present in their blood.
- From 1912 to 1948, art was an official Olympic event. Submissions had to be in the categories of architecture, literature, music, painting, or sculpture, and must in all cases be inspired by sports. The art works submitted also had to be original works never before seen publicly before being submitted to the Olympics. The art was then judged by a panel, with the winners being awarded medals the same as other Olympians. Art was removed from the Olympic games (as a judged event) after a report was done showing that almost all of the contestants who submitted works to the Olympics were professionals.
Other Interesting Stuff
The Origin of the Phrase “Jump on the Bandwagon”
For those not familiar, when you jump on the bandwagon, it means you begin supporting a hobby, idea, person, etc. after it has become popular or successful. The word “bandwagon” is the rather unimaginative name for a wagon that carried a circus band. It first appeared in print in the equally unimaginatively titled book The Life of P.T. Barnum, Written by Himself, which was published in 1855: At Vicksburg we sold all our land conveyances excepting our horses and the ‘band wagon.’ P.T. Barnum is the famous circus owner and showman Phineas T. Barnum. Back then, circuses were known for their showy parades through town before they set up. These parades attracted villagers’ attention and acted as an easy marketing ploy to get people to go…(more)
Frogs and Milk – How to Keep Milk From Spoiling Without Refrigeration
For centuries, before refrigeration, an old Russian practice was to drop a frog into a bucket of milk to keep the milk from spoiling. In modern times, many believed that this was nothing more than an old wives’ tale. But researchers at Moscow State University, led by organic chemist Dr. Albert Lebedev, have shown that there could be some benefit to doing this, though of course in the end you’ll be drinking milk that a frog was in. Ice boxes first became available to consumers in the early to mid-19th century and, with that, the ice trade became big business. New England and Norway became major purveyors of ice, but anywhere it was cold, ice was a major export. Usually made out of wood with tin or zinc walls and insulation material like sawdust, cork, or straw, ice boxes were popular until they were rendered…(more)
The Lowest Scoring Game in Basketball History and the Fix that Saved Professional Basketball
On a cold, late November Wednesday in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a crowd of 7,021 arrived to the Minneapolis Auditorium to watch an NBA game between the Fort Wayne Pistons and the Minneapolis Lakers. This was a new experience for many of the fans in the stands. The NBA had formed due to a merger between rival leagues, the Basketball Association of America (BAA) and the National Basketball League (NBL), less than 16 months before. The new league was still trying to find its footing. Each game represented a chance to win – and lose – fans. This matchup boasted some of the brightest basketball stars of the day – most prominent of all, the great George Mikan. A basketball prodigy since his college days at…(more)
In 1993, concerned about the steady decline of milk consumption over recent years, the newly created nonprofit California Milk Processor Board approached the advertising agency of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, seeking fresh ideas to get America excited about drinking their product.The agency found the request quite a challenge, since, in the words of Jeff Goodby: “We have all tried it. Most of already own some.. . . Milk is not new. It is not improved . . . . There is very little to say about it.” And so, despite years of experience, the Mad Men and Women of Goodby, Silverstein & Partners were at a loss for where to start when, during a focus group, one woman noted that: “The only time I even think about milk is when I run out of it,” which led Goodby to write…(more)
Origin of the Stock Market Terms “Bull” and “Bear”
For those who don’t know, a “bear” market, or when someone is being “bearish” in this context, is marked by investors being very conservative and pessimistic, resulting in a declining market generally marked by the mass selling off of stock. A “bull” market is simply the opposite of that, with investors being aggressive and positive, with stock prices rising as a result of this optimism. This “bull” and “bear” terminology first popped up in the 18th century in England. There are a couple different possible sources for the “bear” part of this tandem, but the leading theory is that it derived from an old 16th century proverb: “selling the bear’s skin before one has caught the bear” or alternatively, “Don’t…(more)
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