Author Archives: Emily Upton

Did the Austrian Army Really Accidentally End Up Fighting Itself in a Major Battle?

Karla asks: Is it true that once the Austrian army accidentally ended up fighting itself in a battle? If you ever feel like you’ve “made a huge mistake,” just remember: it’s probably not bigger than the Battle of Karansebes, during which the Austrian army broke into two and ended up mistakenly fighting itself. At least, that’s what supposedly happened. There […]

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The Origins of the Names of the Historic Counties of Wales and Northern Ireland

Today I found out the origins of the names of the historic counties of Wales and Northern Ireland. WALES Anglesey Anglesey is believed to be a Viking place name. The Vikings denoted islands with the suffix “ey.” The best bet is that Anglesey started out as “Ongl’s Ey,” but no one knows who Ongl might have been. Brecknockshire Brecknockshire, as […]

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The Origins of the Names of the Historic English Counties

Today I found out the origins of the names of England’s historic counties. Bedfordshire Bedfordshire is likely named after Beda, a Saxon chief who settled on River Great Ouse, which runs through the county. The settlement probably started as something like “Beda’s Ford” which was then shortened to Bedford. Berkshire When it was founded, Berkshire was Bearrocscir. Bearroc is thought […]

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The Origin of the Names of Australia’s States and Territories (and Their Capitals)

Today I found out about the origins of the names of the Australian states and territories (and their capitals). Australian Capital Territory As you can probably imagine, this territory houses the capital of Australia, Canberra. Not very imaginatively named, the territory was a matter of debate for some time after Australia became a federation in 1901. At the time, Melbourne, […]

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The Actress Who Played Elaine on Seinfeld is the Daughter of a Billionaire

Today I found out that the father of Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a billionaire. Seinfeld would have been a lot different with another actress playing Elaine, and that’s what would have happened if Julia Louis-Dreyfus had decided to live the life of an heiress rather than pursue acting. And that wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. Julia’s father is multi-billionaire […]

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The History of Burritos

Burritos are one of the most popular Tex-Mex items on the menu. Anyone who knows a little Spanish has probably raised their eyebrows at the name, however. In Spanish, a “burro” is a donkey, and “burrito,” the diminutive form, means “little donkey.” As far as we know, donkey was never a popular ingredient in the famous dish, so how exactly […]

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Why Native Americans Didn’t Wipe Out Europeans With Diseases

Greg H. asks: Diseases from Europe wiped out most of the Indians, so why didn’t the Europeans also get wiped out by diseases from America? While estimates vary, approximately 20-50 million people are believed to have lived in the Americas shortly before Europeans arrived. Around 95% of them were killed by European diseases. So why didn’t 19 out of 20 […]

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Where the Phrase Quitting “Cold Turkey” Comes From

Mark asks: I don’t know if you’ve already covered this or not, but why do we call quitting something abruptly “cold turkey”? When you quit something “cold turkey” it means that you’re quitting smoking, drinking, a hard drug, or eating delicious chocolate cake right then and there without being slowly weaned off the addictive (possibly chocolatey) substance. What with turkeys […]

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