The federal government is the national government of the United States of America. It includes the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. The executive branch is responsible for enforcing the laws of the United States. Its main components include the president, the vice president, government departments, and independent agencies. The president is the leader of the country and commander in chief of the armed forces; the vice president is the president of the Senate and the first in line for the presidency should the president be unable to serve; the departments and their heads (called Cabinet members) advise the president on decisions that affect the country; and independent agencies help carry out the president’s policies and provide special services. The legislative branch is the lawmaking branch of the federal government. It is made up of a bicameral (or two-chamber) Congress: the Senate and the House of Representatives. The judicial branch, made up of the Supreme Court and other federal courts, is responsible for interpreting the meaning of laws, how they are applied, and whether or not they violate the Constitution.
The classic tale of Dorothy in the land of Oz came from the imagination of L. Frank Baum, who made up the story for his son and a group of children one evening in 1899. When a little girl asked him the name of this magical land with the Scarecrow, Tinman, and Cowardly Lion, he looked around the room for inspiration. He happened to be sitting next to a filing cabinet with the drawers labelled “A-G,” “H-N,” and finally “O-Z,” which gave him a quick answer: “Oz.”
If there is “blackmail” then there must be “white mail.” Mail was a Scottish word for rent or tax, and during the reign of James I, taxes or mail were paid in silver, which, because of its colour, was called “white mail.” During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, bandits along the Scottish border demanded protection money from the farmers. Because black signified evil, this cruel extortion was called a black tax, or “blackmail.”
When the body temperature rises, the sweat glands are stimulated to secrete perspiration. It is nature’s way to keep the body cool. During the process of evaporation of sweat, body heat is taken away, thus giving a sense of coolness.
Indian Born British Hunter
Computers developed from calculating machines. One of the earliest mechanical devices for calculating, which is still widely used today, is the abacus—a frame for carrying parallel rods on which beads or counters are strung. The abacus originated in Egypt in 2000 B.C.E. It reached the Orient about a thousand years later, and arrived in Europe in about the year 300 C.E. In 1617, the Scottish scholar John Napier invented “Napier’s Bones”—marked pieces of ivory for multiples of numbers. In the middle of the same century, the French mathematician Blaise Pascal produced a simple mechanism for adding and subtracting. Multiplication by repeated addition was a feature of the stepped drum or wheel machine of 1694, invented by the German mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.
The number thirteen represents Judas, the thirteenth to arrive at the Last Supper. Friday by itself is unlucky because it was the day of Christ’s Crucifixion. Years ago, the British set out to disprove these superstitions. They named a new vessel HMS Friday, laid her keel on a Friday, and then sent her to sea on a Friday that fell on the thirteenth. The plan backfired: neither ship nor crew was ever heard from again. Then, of course, there’s Apollo 13.
If left to their own devices, cows in pasture will regularly show up at the barn for milking twice a day: once in the morning and once in the evening. The expression “’til the cows come home” first appeared in the sixteenth century when most people were familiar with the cycles of farm life. It was often used when a party went on long into the night — it would have to end in the morning when the cows came home and needed milking.
In ancient times, just as today in third-world societies, dogs lived miserable lives with little or no human care, which led to the hard-times expressions, “it’s a dog’s life,” “sick as a dog,” and “dog-tired.” As for the proverb “Every dog has his day,” it was first recorded as an epilogue after the famed Greek playwright Euripides was killed by a pack of dogs in 405 BC.
The person who says, “The coast is clear,” sounds as though he or she is being cautious about avoiding legal detection, and so it should. It originated as the standard cry from the man in the crow’s nest of every pirate ship before it chanced a landing. When the captain verified with his telescope that there was no danger in going ashore, he would repeat the cry, “The coast is clear!” And so it became an order for his fellow smugglers to prepare to land.