Why do we call a traitor a “turncoat”?

Someone who changes sides during a war is called a “turncoat” because of the actions of a former duke of Saxony who found himself and his land uncomfortably situated directly in the middle of a war between the French and the Saxons.

He quickly had a reversible coat made for himself, one side blue for the Saxons, and the other side white for the French. Then, depending on who was occupying his land, he could wear the appropriate colour of allegiance.

How did a crushing public humiliation become known as a “Roman holiday”?

The Etruscans of ancient Italy ritually honoured their dead war heroes by sacrificing the lives of all prisoners seized in battle. After conquering the Etruscans, the Romans borrowed and embellished the ritual by having the prisoners kill each other. They turned the slaughter into public gladiatorial games and declared the spectacle a Roman holiday, which became an expression synonymous with any cruel and crushing public destruction.

Posted on Categories General

What is the Chinese lunar calendar?

The Chinese lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the Moon, and is constructed in a different fashion than the Western solar calendar. In the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the year falls somewhere between late January and early February, and contains 354 days.

Each year is given an animal designation, such as “Year of the Ox.” A total of 12 different animal names are used, and they rotate in the following sequence: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare (Rabbit), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep (Goat), Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. The Chinese have adopted the Western calendar since 1911, but the lunar calendar is still used for festive occasions such as the Chinese New Year. Many Chinese calendars print both the solar dates and the Chinese lunar dates.

Why do paratroopers shout “Geronimo” when they jump from a plane?

During the Second World War, Native American paratroopers began the custom of shouting the name of the great Indian chief Geronimo when jumping from a plane because, according to legend, When cornered at a cliff’s edge by U.S. cavalrymen, Geronimo, in defiance, screamed his own name as he leaped to certain death, only to escape both injury and the bluecoats.

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Are there certain fish that can live without water?

Yes, for a period of time. The mangrove killfish spends several months of every year out of the water, living inside rotting branches and tree trunks. The 2-inch- (5-centimeter-) long fish normally lives in muddy pools and the flooded burrows of crabs in the mangrove swamps of Florida, Latin America, and the Caribbean. When their pools of water dry up, they temporarily alter their gills to retain water and nutrients, while they excrete nitrogen waste through their skin.

These changes are reversed as soon as they return to the water. The mangrove killfish is not the only fish able to temporarily survive out of water. The walking catfish of Southeast Asia has gills that allow it to breathe in air and in water. The giant mudskippers of Southeast Asia breathe through their gills underwater and breathe air on land by absorbing oxygen through their skin and the back of the mouth and throat.

What are allergies?

An allergic reaction is a reaction to a substance that is normally harmless to most other people. Allergies happen when a person’s immune system overreacts to a normally harmless substance that the person has breathed in, touched, or eaten. Allergens— the antigens that bring on an allergic reaction—may be foods, medications, plants or animals, chemicals, dust, or molds. Some common allergic reactions are hay fever, allergic conjunctivitis (an eye reaction); asthma, pet-dander allergies, and skin reactions, such as hives.

A common cause for allergies are dust mites, a large part of household dust. If they are breathed in by an allergic person, the body parts of the dead mites can trigger asthma, a lung condition that causes a person to have difficulty breathing. Cat and dog dander, or skin flakes, can cause an allergic reaction, such as sneezing, wheezing, and running eyes and nose. Common food allergy triggers are the proteins in cow’s milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat, soy, fish, shellfish, and tree nuts.

Posted on Categories Health

When were the hottest and coldest days of the year?

In the United States, the hottest day that we know of was July 10, 1913. On that day, Death Valley, California, reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit (56 degrees Celsius). The highest temperature in the world was recorded on September 13, 1922 in Al Aziziyah, Libya, where it reached 136.4 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius).

The coldest temperature ever measured was –129 Fahrenheit (–89 Celsius) at Vostok, Antarctica, on July 21, 1983. The world’s most extreme temperatures take place in Verhoyansk, northeast Siberia, where temperatures fall as low as –90 degrees Fahrenheit (–68 degrees Celsius) in winter and rise as high as 98 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) in summer.

Why do we carve jack-o’-lanterns for Halloween?

In Irish folklore, a supreme con man named Jack, or “Jack-o,” once tricked the Devil himself. Upon his death, his sins barred him from heaven, and because he had once fooled the Devil he couldn’t enter hell. After a lot of begging he finally persuaded Satan to give him one burning ember. Placed in a hollowed-out turnip it served as a lantern to light his way through the afterlife. Later in North America, the plentiful pumpkin replaced turnips for use as “Jack-o’s lanterns.”

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Was Rudolph the only name of the red-nosed reindeer?

In 1939, when Robert May, a copywriter for Montgomery Ward, wrote a promotional Christmas poem for that Chicago department store, its principal character was “Rollo” the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but the corporate executives didn’t like that name, nor did they approve of May’s second suggestion, “Reginald.”

It was May’s four-year-old daughter who came up with “Rudolph,” and the title for a Christmas classic.