Sunday, February 25, 2007

10 things I didn't know until last week

1. The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, exhibits historic films, photographs, artifacts and interpretive displays that document the events around President Kennedy’s assasination. It is located at the old Texas School Book Depository - the location from which Lee Harvey Oswald reputedly shot the president on November 22, 1963.
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2. Pablo Picasso and Apollinaire were suspects when the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in 1911. Both of them had earlier purchased stolen artifacts from the Louvre from a man named Gery Pieret. They were released after questioning - Picasso immediately (after he returned the stolen statues he had bought earlier) and Apollinaire, after he spent 5 days in jail.
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3. Lotto carpets are handwoven carpets from Turkey which were popular during the 16th and 17th century. They are characterized by a lacy arabesque repeated field pattern, usually in yellow upon a red ground. They are so named because they appear in several of the works of the Venetian painter Lorenzo Lotto.
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4. Foundations Edge, the fourth book in the Foundation series by Isaac Asimov, was written thirty years after the Foundation trilogy was originally written. Asimov agreed to write it only after intense and sustained pressure from his fans and because of the amount of money offered by his publisher. It was also his first novel to make it to the New York Times best-seller list - after 262 books and 44 years of writing.
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5. In the Nix v. Hedden case of 1893, the US Supreme Court addressed the issue of whether a tomato was a vegetable or a fruit. The Court ruled “that because in the common language of the people [tomatoes] are vegetables,” they should be so considered under the Act, even though botanically they are defined as fruits.
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6. The game in which one attempts to extricate straws - one at a time, and without disturbing any other in the heap - is called spillikins.
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7. The trimmed tree trunks used in the Highland games of Scotland are called cabers.
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8. San Salvador literally means Holy Saviour.
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9. The Roman Senate kept state treaties with foreign countries at the Temple of Fides at the Capitoline Hill. Fides was the Roman goddess of loyalty and was believed to protect them.
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10. Tamerlane - a Mongol warlord and founder of the Timurid dynasty - was reputedly so proficient at Shatranj (the precursor of chess) that he created his own more complicated version, called Shatranj-a-kamil (meaning perfect chess) or Tamerlane Chess. His version of the game employs 28 pieces of 11 different types on a board of 112 squares - against the standard version’s 16 pieces of 6 types on a board of 64 squares.
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