Sunday, November 12, 2006

10 things I didn't know until last week

1. ‘A capella’ music - vocal singing without instrumental accompaniment - gets its name from the Italian for ‘like in the chapel.’ The term is derived from the practice of early Christian churches to sing without any instrumental accompaniment.
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2. The group within the British Conservative Party that advocates free market Thatcherite policies is called ‘No Turning Back’ after the ex-PM’s famous quip.
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3. Private security companies’ hired guns are now the second largest military contingent in Iraq, after the US Army.
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4. Outgoing US defence secratary, Donald Rumsfeld has been both the youngest and the oldest defence secratary in US history, first serving the role under Gerald Ford between 1975 and 1977.
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5. Berengaria, daughter of the King Of Navarre and queen consort of Richard the Lionheart, never visited England during her husband’s lifetime - making her the only English Queen to never set foot in the country. (Richard himself spent only a few months of his reign in England, otherwise busying himself with the crusades.) There’s evidence, however, to suggest that Berengaria may have visted England after Richard’s death.
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6. The word soldier is derived from the name for a Roman gold coin, solidus.
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7. Andrew Carnegie helped establish a staggering 2,800 or more libraries, in and outside the US, during his lifetime.
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8. The practice of sneaking a videocam into a theatre and recording a bootleg is called camming.
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9. The period of outward normalcy between the time a virus infects a cell and the time its progeny burst forth shattering the host is called ‘eclipse phase’. This phenomenon is often seen in sci-fi horror movies where victims of alien invasion appear normal for a while, and then start spewing forth ‘the scum of the universe.’
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10. The Jolly Roger - the black flag with white skull and cross bones - was allegedly the battle flag of the fleet of the Knights Templars, a full 400 years before pirates started using it.
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