Tell us an interesting random fact you stumbled across

-40 Fahrenheit and -40 Celsius are the exact same temperature.

In 1964, the Beatles released “The Beatles Second Album” in the US. It was their third (US) album.

The Beatles releases, especially in the first few years, is somewhat tangled. There are several labels in several countries picking and choosing tracks somewhat randomly. The “canon” releases are the 13 British Parlophone releases, which starting from the CD era have become very familiar.

“The Beatles Second Album” was the second release by the U.S. Capitol label:

The word ‘nun’, is just the letter ‘n’ doing a forward roll!

It was their second release on Capitol Records, which was all Capitol Records cared about.

I love this.

there are 574 official native american tribes in the US Most people like me can probably name around 10.

… and I guarantee “Cherokee” is gonna be in the top three, and probably the most common #1 name.

Musical pitch used to suffer from inflation. It was largely due to musicians and instrument craftsmen competing with each other to produce notes that were “brighter”. Antique tuning forks show an increase over time (although not consistently - there were frequent corrections).

Nowadays pitch is set to an international standard although Baroque musicians tend to play to a flatter pitch standard.

After its debut made the Ford Edsel the laughing stock of the century, it was redesigned for its last model years, and it was a stunner!

See for yourself..

Well, my state (Washington) has 26 or 27, so that makes it a little easier to get past 10.

Nitpick. “Official” in this context means “federally recognized.” Some of the tribes that have not been recognized (and are fighting about it) would chafe at the term “official.”

No reigning monarch has entered the (British/UK) House of Commons since 1642, when Charles I stormed the House of Commons, an event that eventually led to civil war. When the Queen officially oversees the State Opening of Parliament every year, her speech has to be read from the nearby House of Lords.

And to call the Commons for the opening of Parliament, they are summoned by the Gentleman/Lady Usher of the Black Rod. The ritual involves the House of Commons slamming the door in Black Rod’s face and her/him rapping 3 times for them to answer.

When a new Speaker of the House of Commons is elected, the successful candidate is physically dragged to the Chair by other MPs.

This tradition has its roots in the Speaker’s function to communicate the Commons’ opinions to the monarch. Historically, if the monarch didn’t agree with the message being communicated then the early death of the Speaker could follow. Therefore, as you can imagine, previous Speakers required some gentle persuasion to accept the post.

George VI toured the House of Commons the day before it re-opened following repairs of war damage. It wasn’t technically the House of Commons at the time as it hadn’t been re-dedicated and the House was still sitting elsewhere. But he is the only Monarch to have set foot in the place since 1642.

The linked article is especially interesting to me because I lived for a time on the very block where the Massachusetts plaque was located. I had heard of the competing theory of its origin, but the idea that the song could have originated in Georgia – where there’s no snow – seemed ludicrous. The background of the song seems much more complex than I was aware of.

I’ve recently learned the history of another song associated with race relations, and it, too has a surprising back story. For years I didn’t even know the name of the song. It’s one that you would probably know instantly if you heard it. It’s probably what you think of as “Civil War Music” (that isn’t Dixie or Battle Hymn of the Republic), and Ken Burns did indeed use it as background music for his PBS series The Civil War. It’s used as a “Civil War” or at least Southern “signature” melody in a lot of cartoons, most notably Tex Avery’s MGM cartoons involving Droopy and a Wolf. It was while researching those that I learned the song’s name.

It’s Kingdom Coming, but is better known as The Year of Jubilo (Avery’s cartoon wolf, voiced by Daws Butler with a voice he’d later use for Huckleberry Hound, whistled the tune. He was never named, but he’s known as “Jubilo Wolf” for that reason).

Unlike other songs written at the time involving the South, it’s not a minstrel song and doesn’t idealize the plantation system and involve happy black people working there. Far from it. From Wikipedia:

I never heard the lyrics. In the movie Meet Me in St. Louis Judy Garland sings the song, but with completely different lyrics.

Despite being anti-slavery and pro-Union, the lyrics are still written in a white guy’s version of Southern Black dialect, but the message is anything but Southern Idyllic:

Israel has both a baseball league and an amateur American football league.

How about a professional American football league in India and surrounding nations?

Not sure it made it past it’s inaugural season.

I think I may have posted about this here before, simply to boast about beating an American friend in a make-up-a-team-name contest. The winning name?

Bengal Cincinnatis


It is quite astounding how some of the oldest people who ever lived had such unhealthy lifestyles. The oldest person who ever lived (Jeanne Calment age 122) was a cigarette smoker for over 100 years.

I came across this quite a long time ago, but I’ve been reminded of it because I’ve been listening to the recording of the Broadway show Wicked, and recently caught part of the classic film The Wizard of Oz on TV this week.

The Emerald City ISN’T GREEN!

Not in L. Frank Baum’s book, it isn’t, even though everyone depicts it that way in every color film that’s been made, and in all the stage shows.

And I can see why. It’s striking and attractive. It’s showy. You don’t get that many chances to dress an entire stage in green. And it looks good from far away, a complete city made of porcelain (or whatever), all the same shade of green.

But in Baum’s book, the city is White.

It appears to be green to everyone going through, because you’re required to have green spectacles locked onto your head the whole time you’re there. This even appears in the illustrations, where Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Lion are all shown wearing glasses when they’re in the City (as are all the inhabitants)

Baum appears to have taken the idea of a White City from the Chicago 1893 Columbian Exposition and imagined having people view it through green glasses. Baum lived in Chicago from 1891 on for several years, and was there at the time (although it was, of course, familiar to people across the country). Green spectacles, as I pointed out in a recent article, were a fad in the 19th century. Having to have visitors wear them for the duration of their visit would fit into the sense of whimsey in the book.

The first Oz book came out in 1900, and Baum continued the series through his death in 1919 (and beyond – one volume was published posthumously). An amusement park called White City opened in Chicago in 1905 (followed by copycats all over the country), so he’d be reminded of it after that date.