Sunday, May 25, 2008

10 things I didn't know until last week

1. In the US, a water-tight denial by a politician – as opposed to one that leaves room for any later maneuvering - is known as a Sherman pledge. The other sort is called a non-denial denial.
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2. The word to describe the method of slaughtering animals which conforms to Jewish law is not kosher. It’s shechita.
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3. Brazil has more people of African descent than any country outside of Africa. Half of Brazil’s population is said to be either black or of mixed race.
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4. Swiss army knifes are officially manufactured by two manufacturers - Victorinox and Wenger.
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5. June 12th is observed as Loving Day - an unofficial celebration of inter-racial marriage. The day marks the anniversary of the 1967 United States Supreme Court decision ‘Loving v. Virginia’ which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in 16 states.
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6. The different postures of Buddha statues represent different stages or aspects of the Buddha’s life. The two lotus positions symbolize that Buddha, like the lotus plant, emerged from the mud to achieve enlightenment. The reclining Buddha usually represents his death, passing into nirvana and escaping the tedious cycle of life, death, and rebirth.
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7. Modern calculations show that Jesus Christ was born in 4 BC - a defect in the Christian system of year numbering caused by miscalculation during the calendar’s inception.
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8. Indiana Jones was named after George Lucas’ pet dog.
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9. The Leaning Tower of Pisa had already begun to lean mid-way through its construction. The builders just carried on, after making minor adjustments - building taller walls on the leaning side and shorter walls on the opposite side (first on the north side of the tower and again, when the tower started leaning south.) This is the reason for its squashed-layer-cake look.
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10. Lions once roamed around Europe - becoming extinct there only in 100 AD.
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