Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Friday, December 06, 2002

Stuff you just can't live without knowing...
Ben Schott's Original Miscellany is a book of useless information trivia. The Guardian has an article on it today and here are some of the examples they cite from it. Possible Christmas present?

Iceberg sizes: A growler is an iceberg between one and 5 metres above water; a bergy bit, 1-4; small, 5-15; medium, 16-45; large, 46-75; very large, over 75.

Nouns of assemblage: A malpertness of pedlars, a murmuration of starlings, an exaltation of larks, a murder of crows, a glozing of taverners.

Arabic words: All the words in italics are derived from Arabic. The admiral in the alcove, while sitting on his sequin sofa dreaming of harems, should fear the assassin rather than seeking solace in the alchemy of alcohol .

Unusual deaths of Burmese kings: In 1599, Nandabayin laughed himself to death when informed by a visiting Italian merchant that Venice was a free state without a king.

I love you: ... is "Ek het jou lief" in Afrikaans, "Aishite imasu" in Japanese, and "Rwy'n dy garu di" in Welsh.

Patron saints: St George is the patron saint of syphilitics, St Zita of domestic servants, and St Gabriel of broadcasters.

London Underground: The Jubilee line is the only one that interconnects with every other line on the tube network.

Napoleon's horse: Marengo outlived Napoleon by eight years and her skeleton is preseved in London's National Army Museum. A snuffbox was made out of one of her hooves.

Curious surname pronunciations: Tywhitt is pronounced "tirit", Knollys "nowls", and Althorp is pronounced "althrup", "altrup" or "atrup".

Alcohol measures: A nip is a quarter pint of beer. A tot is a sixth, a fifth, a quarter or a third of a gill of whisky. A noggin is one gill of spirit.

Lovely long words: Pneumonoultramicroscopicsiliocovolcanoconiosis is a disease caused by inhalation of fine particles; floccinaucinihilipilification is the estimation of a thing as useless.

Mrs Beeton's maxims: Thrust an oniony knife into the earth to take away the smell.

BA results rhyming slang: First - Geoff (Hurst), 2:1 - Attila (the Hun), 2:2 - Desmond (Tutu), third - Douglas (Hurd).

The metre: Since 1983, the metre has been defined internationally as the length of the path travelled by light in a vacuum during 1/299,792,458th of a second.

Litotes: Deliberate understatement. As in Churchill's remark: "Business carried on as usual during alterations on the map of Europe."

Eponymous foods: Chateaubriand is a cut of beef named after the Vicomte de Chateaubriand; Garibaldi biscuits were named after Giuseppe Garibladi, the Italian nationalist, who liked them.

Odd deaths: Mama Cass died of ham sandwich asphyxiation, Chet Baker by defenestration. Sonny Bono skiied into a tree in Tahoe.

Missile ranges: An intercontinental ballistic missile has a range of more than 5,500km.

Martini: One-third vermouth, two-thirds dry gin. Shake, garnish, serve on or off the rocks.

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