What kinds of household pets are common around the world?

Not all people own dogs and cats. While many Europeans, including the British, French, and Italians, own dogs and cats, other people have different relationships to them. In Islamic tradition, dogs are shunned as unclean and dangerous, and thus it has never been common for Arabs to own pets. However, in Saudi Arabia and Egypt it has become fashionable among the upper class to own dogs and cats. (As early as 3500 B.C.E., Egyptians domesticated wildcats from Africa, which became their treasured pets and honored for their skill in hunting snakes, rats, and mice.) In China, cats are thought to bring good luck and are kept in shops and homes; the country also has about 150 million pet dogs—about one for every nine people.

The Japanese keep birds and crickets as pets. The Inuit Eskimo of northern Canada adopt bear cubs, foxes, birds, and baby seals. And Australian Aborigines capture dingo (wild dog) puppies and raise them for a time before letting them go.

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Why do we say we’re “boning up” when studying or preparing for an examination?

The phrase boning up comes from a British teacher of Greek and Latin Who wanted to make life easier for his students. With that goal in mind he translated the Greek and Latin classics into English and then had them published and distributed within his classroom. His name was Mr. Bohn, and his grateful students called this new, speedier method of studying the classics “Bohning up.”

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Where is the windiest place on Earth?

Antarctica is the coldest, highest, windiest, driest, and iciest continent on Earth. Winds can reach up to 200 miles (322 kilometers) per hour for five hours per day!

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How was printing done before computers and motor-driven presses?

Long before computers and motor-driven presses, printing was done by hand with wooden blocks of letters and figures dipped in ink and pressed onto paper. Historians believe that this method of printing was invented in China around the year 700. A hand-operated printing press—with moveable type or letters—was first used in Europe in the mid-fifteenth century. Johannes Gutenberg printed the first book, a Bible, in what is now Germany, in 1455. Until that time all books and other manuscripts were written out by hand.

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Why is it important to always wear my helmet?

Each year, about 150,000 children are treated in emergency rooms for head injuries that occurred while riding their bikes. Many bike-related injuries could be avoided if riders wore their helmets properly. Wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of brain injury by as much as 88 percent and reduces the risk of injury to the face by 65 percent. That is why many state laws say that bicyclists under the age of 14 are required to wear approved bicycle helmets when they ride their bicycles. If your friends don’t wear helmets when you bicycle together, teach them by your wise example. In the United States, bicycle helmets save one life every day and prevent one head injury from happening every four minutes.

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What do I do if my pet dies?

Like all living things, your pet will die someday. A pet can die from old age, an accident, or an illness. Even when a veterinarian (an animal doctor) helps, there are some illnesses that can’t be cured. If your pet is in a lot of pain and will never get better, your parents and the vet may decide that the animal should be allowed to die, or “put to sleep.” To make the process pain-free and peaceful, the vet can give the pet a special kind of injection (shot) to help it die. If your pet dies naturally, you may want to bury it in your back yard. But check with your town or city first to make sure burial on your property is legal. Some laws permit homeowners to bury their pets on their property, while others do not. Other options include burying your pet at a pet cemetery or cremating the animal, then scattering the ashes throughout your garden or under a favorite tree. No matter what you decide to do when your pet dies, many emotions are likely to surface, such as sadness, loneliness, or even anger. Talk to your parents about how you are feeling. You and your family may want to find special ways to remember your pet. You might have a ceremony, tell stories, write a poem, or make a scrapbook. And there are animal organizations, such as the ASPCA (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) that can help you with the grieving process. A new animal can’t replace your old pet, but someday the time might be right for you and your family to adopt a new animal for everyone to love.

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What is the origin of the phrase, “I’ll be hanged if I do and hanged if I don’t”?

When America was fighting for its independence, the British poet Thelwall was arrested after enraging King George with his liberal, seditious support for the colonies. In prison he wrote to his lawyer, “I shall be hanged of I don’t plead my own case,” to which his lawyer replied, “You’ll be hanged if you do!” His lawyer got him off, and the phrase became a slogan that contributed to the demise of the royal cause in America.

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