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[P]
Origins of the things we do and say

By xutopia in Culture
Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 11:22:04 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

The vast majority of actions or words we use today are things we saw or heard from others. Many of these things we put too little thought into. Some questions we can ask ourselves can lead to interesting facts.

Why do some countries drive on the right and others on the left? Why do we say "bless you" when someone sneezes? Why did rounded knifes appear in 1669? And why do we hit glasses when drinking amongst friends?

Answers to these questions and other anecdotes follow for the pleasure of the reader. Some of them are just stories I heard, others I've read in a book or online. In all cases I could be wrong. You as the reader can participate in debunking any of the stories I present.


Rounded knifes

Gentlemen in 17th century France had the bad habit of picking their teeth with their knives. The Cardinal de Richelieu irritated with this bad habit asked his cutler to round off the edges of the knives. In 1669 he wrote a law promoting the usage of rounded knifes.

The fork

The fork as we know it is also a recent instrument going back only to the 16th century. The story goes that it was Catherine de Mdecis who brought a serving fork with her while visiting her son Henri III. He was very intrigued with the instrument. At the time it was still customary to eat with your hands helped only by a knife. The fork which at the time had only two teeth wasn't used for anything else than serving and we still to this day see the same model in some kitchens. It was only at the end of the 18th century that we started using a "fourchette" or "petite fourche" (small pitchfork) to bring food to our mouth.

Clinking of glasses at a toast

Another food related, or rather a drink related anecdote is that of the clinking of glasses. In middle ages adding poison to someone'd drink was an easy way of assassinating them. It left no marks and wine was not only strong enough a drink to mask the taste it also had the right color to hide the poison. The easiest way to prevent this was by pouring some of your drink in the other person's glass and vice versa. If one tried poisoning the other both would now die. The good measure stayed and people now still cling glasses though without mixing contents.

The truth about sabotage

As many of your probably heard the word sabotage has for root the word sabot. Surprisingly for many sabotage as we know it has nothing to do with the footwear but with the other sense of the word sabot. Yet people repeat a story about the wooden footwear being thrown into machinery to break or stop things. The truth is that the second sense of sabot, metal clamps that hold things together is the root of the word sabotage. The word is believed to have been coined only after French railway workers cut the sabot that held the rails together.

Driving on the right side of the road

Until the 18th century everyone drove on the left side. In a violent society made up of mostly right-handed individuals it would be reasonable to do so. Samurais in Japan also followed the same custom. So why the change? It was in great part thanks to Napoleon that a majority of people now drive on the right. Napoleon was left-handed. He also conquered most of Europe at the height of his glory bringing with him much of France's post-revolutionary culture.

Bless you

Sneeze and chances are someone will say "Bless you". A while back it was thought that your soul could escape through your mouth or evil spirits could jump in. With sneezing sometimes announcing a flu the myth grew in strength as people also thought that diseases were cause by evil spirits or the devil. Because of this fear people also put their hands in front of their mouth even while yawning. Saying "Bless you" was a way to make sure no evil spirit came in.

Soap that floats

If you are scared of germs you'll want to wash your hand and what better than a bar of soap that floats. Ivory soap floats because of a worker's error. He left for lunch without shutting off the machines and tiny air bubbles were mixed into the soap mixture. After careful consideration it was decided that the soap be shipped just the same. A few months later Procter and Gamble received letters asking for more of the soap that floats. After investigation they realized it was the soap that had been mixed longer that had the wonderful property.

The Japanese and photography

Today Japan has a very strong culture of tourism photography. Some jokes are even made about the Japanese taking pictures of almost everything they see. Some say that the reason for this photographic enthusiasm has to do with a law that was passed by a fearful government about one hundred years ago. The law ordered that anyone leaving the country was to bring back pictures proving he had been to the aforementioned place. The pictures being brought back to show the government proof were also shown to friends and family and the culture of photography was born.

Conclusion

As we saw with the sabotage story sometimes a story which isn't entirely true that is perpetuated because it somehow makes sense or makes the messenger look smart. There are lots of false facts today which survive because they are interesting. Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is a marketing lie and is such an instance. No one should drink 8 large glasses of water a day unless they do heavy physical activity in warm weather.

Some of the anecdotes in this compilation will be repeated by some of you and you may actually hear these again by someone else. They are quite popular and make this world a more interesting place. Sharing stories and anecdotes like these is part of our culture and are a defining part of who we are.

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Poll
Do you say "Bless you" when someone sneezes?
o Yes 36%
o No 63%

Votes: 105
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o on the left
o Japan
o "Bless you"
o Ivory soap
o marketing lie
o Also by xutopia


Display: Sort:
Origins of the things we do and say | 142 comments (103 topical, 39 editorial, 1 hidden)
What are your sources? (2.46 / 13) (#10)
by NoBeardPete on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 02:52:57 PM EST

You should say what your sources are for these. I'm skeptical of a most of these. Without some sort of references, I'm forced to assume you just heard these from some guy somewhere, and are now repeating them to us.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!

Did you read (none / 2) (#63)
by xutopia on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 11:07:35 AM EST

"Some of them are just stories I heard". In no way do I tell the reader that these are written in stone. I even say that you can debunk any if you wish. I couldn't find any evidence pointing in the other direction yet these stories have been in books or propagated orally for a while now. Asking me for sources for something like this is like asking someone for a source when he writes fiction. See the point?

[ Parent ]
I guess I don't (none / 3) (#65)
by NoBeardPete on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 12:55:31 PM EST

See the point. These aren't really interesting enough to stand on their own as fiction, and there's no real evidence that they're true. I think you'd be better off picking which you're interested in - spinning an interesting yarn about the origin of something, or determining the truth. This middle ground is not so hot.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

the word goodbye (2.87 / 8) (#12)
by Work on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 03:28:49 PM EST

originally this was a phrase along the lines of 'god be wi ye', which was eventually shortened to the goodbye we know today.

Origins of the fork, embellished: (2.50 / 4) (#15)
by it certainly is on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 04:02:24 PM EST

A history of the fork. Its sources are From Hand to Mouth, Fast and Feast - Food in Medieval Society and Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

Driving on the each side of the road. (2.80 / 5) (#16)
by it certainly is on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 04:14:45 PM EST

The left or right side road travelling histories are accurate. However, the reason most countries drive on the right is due to the USA and its early motor-car dominance. Thanks to Henry Ford, the cheapest reliable motor cars came from the USA, and they only had right-hand drive.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

Left-hand drive, shorely [nt] (none / 0) (#64)
by gazbo on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 12:07:18 PM EST


-----
Topless, revealing, nude pics and vids of Zora Suleman! Upskirt and down blouse! Cleavage!
Hardcore ZORA SULEMAN pics!

[ Parent ]

Aye, 'tis that. [n/t] (none / 0) (#74)
by it certainly is on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 07:32:32 PM EST



kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

I talk about origins (none / 0) (#86)
by xutopia on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 11:34:37 PM EST

even if you are right about the fact that Ford was the one that promoted driving on the right with his cheap cars, it was thanks to Napoleon that the French drove on the right and he is the one that by extention influenced the USA to do the same.

[ Parent ]
Wrong (none / 0) (#116)
by YesNoCancel on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 09:39:49 AM EST

Actually the reason is World War II. Germans drove on the right side of the road, and they brought this custom to the continental European countries that still drove on the right side when they occupied them. I remember seeing brochures about the left-to-right-transition in my history book.

Also, I don't think Henry Ford's cars had much of an impact on Europe. I'd guess the T-Model wasn't sold in (continental) Europe at all. American cars didn't have much of an impact on countries other than the USA.

[ Parent ]

*yawn* (1.50 / 4) (#19)
by skelter on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 05:39:45 PM EST

Because of this fear people also put their hands in front of their mouth even while yawning.

Made me yawn...dammit.

AND HE'LL MAKE YOU YAWN TOO! YES, YAWN YOU BASTARD! MUAHAHA.

In other news the idea that yawning is contageous is a myth.

contagious n/t (none / 0) (#20)
by skelter on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 05:40:38 PM EST



[ Parent ]
That's not true (none / 0) (#25)
by fae on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 08:02:02 PM EST

I have very reliable anecdotal evidence for the existence of yawn rays.

-- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity
[ Parent ]
Er... well no, actually. (none / 1) (#29)
by zipper on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 08:51:17 PM EST

One theory for why yawns are contagious is a sort of base survival instinct. A deep yawn lets you exchange a lot of carbon dioxide for oxygen -- the theory being that if you see someone else yawn, it probably means you have to as well.

I'm not sure how much I agree with that, at least not for yawning, but it also applies to vomiting.... again, the theory being that if someone else ate something that made them sick, you might have as well, so you purge it.

meh.

---
This account has been neutered by rusty and can no longer rate or post comments. Way to go fearless leader!
[ Parent ]
No, it works like this (none / 2) (#60)
by NoBeardPete on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 10:48:09 AM EST

Yawning equalizes pressure between your ears and the enviornment. That's why it's helpful to yawn on a plane around takeoff and landing. So when one person in a group yawns, he equalizes _his_ pressure, but subtly disrupts everyone else's, causing them to need to yawn as well.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

The meaning of "subtly" (none / 0) (#97)
by Ranieri on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 09:14:25 AM EST

After a short back-of-envelope scribble involving the volume of the Eustachian tubes, the volume of the average living space and a guesstimate for a realistic pressure differential between pre and post sneezing, I'm convinced this argument is bunk.

Do you have any evidence to support it? The effect is many many many times lower than the pressure differential generated by e.g. a rapidly closing door.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

It's a joke, son (nt) (none / 1) (#99)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 01:02:47 PM EST


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]
Ah, ok. It wasn't really funny. (none / 0) (#111)
by Ranieri on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 06:43:31 AM EST

But that's ok, I have that a lot too.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]
Not true (2.75 / 4) (#98)
by rusty on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 12:46:53 PM EST

Studies have shown that yawns are indistinguishable from normal breaths, as far as gas exchange goes. The most recent thing I read speculated that yawning was actually a social impulse -- a form of communication. It pointed out that we tend to yawn when we change states of alertness, like when we wake up or when we're sleepy. Apparently lions do the same thing, and when the alpha lion yawns, the rest of them yawn too and they all settle down to go to sleep. The theory is that it's an ancient pack-communication thing that keeps everyone on the same page as far as what we're doing now.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
babies yawn (none / 1) (#113)
by neetij on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 09:22:44 AM EST

The theory is that it's an ancient pack-communication thing that keeps everyone on the same page as far as what we're doing now. Although this is true, it has been observed that even babies yawn while in the womb. Here no interaction is possible with another baby - perhaps it is a genetic-habit/instinct, like the dogs that try to flatten the 'grass' on concrete by going in circles before sitting down. I'm not sure there is the need to equalize pressure here nor is there a need to get more oxygen. The idea of being tired or bored might apply here, but still doesnt confirm how yawning is in some way contagious - atleast in the manner that one yawn produces a similar effect on someone else, remotely - sometimes from a great distance. This is also a reason why some people put their hands over their mouths - to prevent others from yawning and not to show the innards of one's mouth (just rude).

[ Parent ]
Inborn communication? (none / 1) (#115)
by rusty on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 09:35:02 AM EST

I'm not sure there's any evidence that communication must be learned. It may be an example of communication that's hard-wired into the brain, which would explain why babies yawn before there's any chance of social circumstances.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
They suck their thumbs too (none / 0) (#141)
by curien on Tue Dec 30, 2003 at 03:47:44 PM EST

Unborn babies perform certain actions which will aid them later in life but are completely useless while in the womb.

--
Screw teh tiger woods! I am teh Lunix Tarballs!
[ Parent ]
straightdope (2.42 / 7) (#23)
by due 2 dew on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 06:35:19 PM EST

check out www.straightdope.com

Note on Forks (2.77 / 9) (#26)
by thelizman on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 08:07:42 PM EST

The chinese invented a fork way long ago. They considered it an uncivilized eating utensil, and opted instead for the elagance of chopsticks. Also, they preferred the tastelessness of bamboo to the metallic bitterness of most forks. Since bamboo was more plentiful then metal, it made sense.

As for the "8 large glasses" myth, it's actually not a myth. The 8 glass rule started at a time when the average size of a drinking glass was 8 ounces. A large glass was only 2 more ounces, and 80 ounces of water a day is a fair amount pretty much anywhere, especially since industrial America needed this much to cope with water lost working in a factory or on a farm. In dry climates, regardless of heat or cold, you need more. In Arizona's summer months, I drank as much as a gallon a day to keep my urine from turning orange. In winter training at Ft. Benning, I had to drink about 6 canteens a day just to prevent cramping (which is not easy to manage while marching with your weapon at low-ready).

Oops, gotta go - Queer Eye is on.
--

"Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
it was a fork, jim (none / 1) (#46)
by fleece on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 06:17:27 AM EST

but not as we know it, not as we know it (repeat to fade)



I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
[ Parent ]
Irelevance (none / 1) (#66)
by xutopia on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 01:16:58 PM EST

a fork may have existed in China before the fork we use but all indications show that the fork was "reinvented" in the western world later on and therefore is the origin of the fork as we know it.

As for the 8 large glasses of water I somewhat disagree. I always was told that the rule came from the 8*8 (8 times eight ounces). Although ingesting that much water in your body through food and liquid is good for you you should add 8 glasses of water if you eat soup and other high water content foods such as fruits and vegetables you shouldn't need to add 8 glasses on top of that. Of course if you do sports or heavy physical training you should drink more water but too much is too much and can be dangerous. I myself had a bad experience from drinking too much water and don't recommend it to anyone.

[ Parent ]

Too Much Water (none / 1) (#105)
by ericc on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 06:06:44 PM EST

I went to basic training (Air Force) less than a year after someone died there from water intoxication. They were incredibly strict about making sure we didn't drink too much. It's been 3.5 years, and I still remember the rule we had to memorize, they ingrained it into us so much. "One half to three fourths of a canteen per hour, not to exceed 12 canteens per day."

Just my one cent (not quite worth two.)

[ Parent ]

Queer eye is gay -nt (1.05 / 17) (#91)
by Ronald Reagan4 on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 03:53:05 AM EST



[ Parent ]
How about some more interesting factoids... (2.40 / 10) (#27)
by fae on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 08:10:39 PM EST

Like, when did the tradition start of women not revealing their breasts, but men are allowed? Or genitalia? The only reason these taboos stay around is because of the whole "forbidden treasure" factor. What about some other silly taboos?

You may guess at the answer but I think you should keep researching and find out for sure.

-- fae: but an atom in the great mass of humanity

That's easy. (2.25 / 4) (#55)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 09:02:55 AM EST

When men expose themselves, women aren't filled with the instinctive urge to suck on the exposed body part.

:-P

Actually, binding and covering breasts probably had more to do originally with the comfort of the woman than morals or fashion.

--
"Libertarian parenting? Hah! I've got merit badges for nagging and bossing, not to mention the much-coveted Order of the Imperious Order."[ Parent ]

Desmond Morris said breasts == butts (none / 0) (#122)
by pin0cchio on Sat Dec 20, 2003 at 12:15:16 PM EST

Desmond Morris explained in The Human Animal series that the woman's breast evolved to provide a frontal counterpart to "the primeval buttock display" after humans stood erect. Therefore, women cover their breasts for some of the same reasons they cover their behinds, so as to concentrate men's minds on intellect rather than sex.


lj65
[ Parent ]
Hmm... (none / 2) (#33)
by Atlas Embraced on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 11:01:42 PM EST

Drinking 8 glasses of water a day is a marketing lie and is such an instance.
From what I know, the origins behind that myth don't seem to lie in marketing. Though, with the advent of the bottled water craze, I can certainly see why it would be thought as such.
----
*wink*
that is an interesting article (none / 0) (#41)
by xutopia on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 12:12:44 AM EST

thanks for sharing it. Yes indeed the marketing lie is opinion on my part. I have seen it time and time again in commercials for skin care products, bottled water and even milk (they say you should replace a few glasses with milk cause it taste better and you need the calcium... right...)!

[ Parent ]
Problems (2.85 / 7) (#37)
by Kasreyn on Tue Dec 16, 2003 at 11:35:52 PM EST

It's rounded KNIVES, not knifes.

In middle ages adding poison to someone'd drink was an easy way of assassinating them. It left no marks and wine was not only strong enough a drink to mask the taste it also had the right color to hide the poison.

This is itself a myth. During most of human history until the late industrial revolution, there was no readily available liquid poison that could kill a person untraceably (or quickly). Either the poison would be weak - in which case he would start puking in a few hours, be in agony for a few days, and then hunt you down and kill you - or it would be strong, and taste SO nasty that no one could gag down enough of it to actually die from it, no matter how strong the wine. Fast-acting, not-extremely-nasty-tasting liquid poison didn't become readily available until arsenic cyanide, IIRC. Most cases of medieval "poisoning" were simply food poisoning in reality; a culture of paranoid belief in assassination by poison led to the belief that such deaths were due to foul play when they were mostly improperly cooked or stored meat.

Oh, and by the way. I drink 6-8 large glasses of water a day and I have very little physical activity. It helps kidney function. My personal saying is "the clearer your pee, the healthier you'll be" :-P


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
It would be interesting to investigate more on (none / 1) (#40)
by xutopia on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 12:04:10 AM EST

poison. I wasn't aware of the facts you bring up. Perhaps you could provide me with places or documents I could research the availability of poison at different periods of time.

I also drank a lot of water but I found myself drinking too much. I now drink about 1 liter of water a day instead of two. I won't go in the details of my symptoms but here is an intereting short read on overdrinking : http://www.hhp.ufl.edu/keepingfit/ARTICLE/toomuchwater.htm

On TV just recently I saw a commercial saying that it was a well known fact that you had to drink 8 large glasses of water a day to stay healthy. Since the adjective "large" is subjective I'd like for people to know about the dangers of overdrinking.

[ Parent ]

Interesting article (none / 0) (#45)
by mstefan on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 03:45:01 AM EST

Demonstrates why you shouldn't just drink plain water, but instead use the "recovery" drinks like Cytomax which also replaces the electrolytes, stabilizes blood sugar and so on.



[ Parent ]
Half and Half Fruit Jucie and Water.... (none / 0) (#121)
by gte910h on Sat Dec 20, 2003 at 01:55:53 AM EST

Is practically the same thing...

[ Parent ]
I guess it would depend (none / 0) (#123)
by mstefan on Sat Dec 20, 2003 at 12:48:43 PM EST

For some reason I seem to recall that you really wouldn't want the citric acid you'd find in stuff like orange juice. Could be wrong there, though.



[ Parent ]
Its not really enough to matter.... (none / 0) (#134)
by gte910h on Mon Dec 22, 2003 at 10:07:12 PM EST

when you break down sugar in your muscles without using oxygen, it turns into an acid. This is why they say that's bad, as that can make you "tire more quickly".

As sports drinks for the most part are as tart if not more tart (sour is the sensor on your tounge that notices acids) that juices, I would say most sports drinks are MORE acidic than half juice and half water.

   --Michael

[ Parent ]

Wolfsbane (none / 1) (#44)
by mstefan on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 03:36:38 AM EST

I think wolfsbane is a poison that was fairly fast acting and its symptoms -- chest pain, irregular heart beat and numbness in the extremities -- are very similar to a heart attack. I've read that its somewhat bitter tasting, but I would guess this could be masked by a strong wine or spiced foods.

Interestingly enough, the atropine in belladonna (in small doses) works to counteract the effect of the poison, stablizing the heart rate.



[ Parent ]
Water (none / 2) (#49)
by kesuari on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 08:17:02 AM EST

Indeed. Today I probably drank maybe three litres of water, not counting the glasses of milk, the milk on my cereal, the water in my foods etc. Of course, it's summer where I am so that obviously has some effect, but even in winter when doing little physical activity, I'll still drink quite a lot. I'm not dead yet. I know someone who gets nasty headaches if he didn't drink at least two litres, not counting food etc., of water a day. He doesn't do much in the way of physical activity, either.

[ Parent ]
BTW, AU cup = 250 mL (none / 0) (#57)
by kesuari on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 09:15:54 AM EST

I should point out that I'm an Australian, the 8-cups-a-day myth became localised. One cooking cup here is 250 mL; eight of them are 2 L and this is the amount that gets cited generally.

[ Parent ]
poisons in Ye Olde Days (none / 2) (#77)
by Polverone on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 08:23:46 PM EST

Arsenic was well known in Roman times, and its trioxide supposedly has very little taste. The trioxide was known by the 8th century, and simply prepared by heating certain arsenic bearing ores in air.

Cyanides are supposed to have been used for poisoning since well before the advent of Rome, but they came from plant sources (like almond and peach leaves and pits) and were therefore dilute and not easily stored. Artificial methods of preparing and storing cyanides as their salts were only discovered in the 1700s. Cyanide salts are bitter like any alkali, but the free acid has little taste. It's conceivable that people could have been poisoned with arsenic trioxide or botanically derived cyanides in medieval times.

There are other natural potent poisons found in various plants, but their efficient extraction would probably require more knowledge and materials than were readily available before the 1700s or so.
--
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.
[ Parent ]

Such as ricin. (and thanks for info!) -nt (none / 0) (#90)
by Kasreyn on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 11:59:24 PM EST

nt = NO TEXT


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Knowledge and materials. (none / 0) (#93)
by tkatchev on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 04:20:05 AM EST

You don't need either for extracting chemicals from plants. Really.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Water Irrigation Problem (none / 0) (#102)
by MicroBerto on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 03:22:04 PM EST

Another problem - Don't bring up a completely new topic (water) in the conclusion.

Berto
- GAIM: MicroBerto
Bertoline - My comic strip
[ Parent ]
Poisons (none / 2) (#108)
by dn on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 10:07:47 PM EST

I'm not sure how it works out for lethal doses, but digitalis toxins (from foxglove) are not excessively bitter in therapeautic doses. Mushroom toxins are notoriously palatable even at many times the LD50. I think belladonna alkaloids—atropine and friends—aren't too bitter (I just tried some hyoscyamine and it was tasteless, although it was an extended release formulation so I might not have actually been tasting the drug). Oxalate salts, as in rhubarb leaves, are fairly innocuous; in small amounts over a long time they cause kidney stones; I don't know if anybody actually used this though. Spanish fly is extremely toxic in doses that are tasteless, although I don't know when it was discovered. I'm sure that many other botanical poisons were known before modern times.

    I ♥
TOXIC
WASTE

[ Parent ]

breakfast is the most important meal of the day (2.22 / 9) (#47)
by the sixth replicant on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 07:08:37 AM EST

marketing crap made by Kelloggs. Most of the continent are happy and healthy having coffee and a croissant.

ciao

Others : Why Volvos always have their lights on permanently. Why we have 24 hours, 360 degrees.

I guess with enough readers we could do a great writeup here.

volvos (none / 2) (#48)
by dimaq on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 07:33:02 AM EST

perhaps that's because volvos are designed in sweden, and whole scandinavia has the rule all vahicles should have their headlights on while driving any time of day, any time of year, reason being that it gets so dark so early in the day. it also rains and snows often, so this regulation is a Good Thing [tm].

[ Parent ]
my 2 cents (none / 2) (#94)
by the sixth replicant on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 04:47:49 AM EST

the reason was that originally in Sweden drove on the left and they obviously were in a bit of a pickle when the crossed the border to right side driving countries. So they bit the bullet and decided to change which side of the road to drive on. (this also happened in south africa). In the time frame of the swap it was required by law to have your headlights on (for obvious reasons). To the surprise of the Swedes the number of road deaths decreased. And hence they required all cars to have their lights on all the time. No sources because I'm too arsed to look it up. :)

Ciao

[ Parent ]

Incorrect. (none / 2) (#104)
by bafungu on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 04:48:33 PM EST

The Swedish left-hand to right-hand switch happened in 1967.

Daytime running lights weren't introduced until 1977.

More info here

[ Parent ]

Arctic winter (none / 1) (#103)
by jabber on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 04:32:30 PM EST

If 6 months of the year, you need the lights on anyway, making them "on" by design makes a lot of sense. You can also save $2.50 on the light switch. :)

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Well... (2.75 / 4) (#110)
by joto on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 01:48:55 AM EST

If you were correct in your description of Scandinavia (dark), then there would be very little reason for a "headlights always on"-rule. No sane driver would drive in darkness with headlights off anyway...

The truth is, the further away from equator you get, the longer summer days you get, and shorter winter days (untill you reach the polar circle, at which summer is all day and winter is all night).

In theory, this should mean that Scandinavians should manage better than most other people the complex process of turning headlights on and off. Here's the rule: You turn headlights on during winter, and off during summer. This is actually much simpler than to have to repeatedly turn them on and off just because the clock-hour changes.

Now, I have no idea how they (Swedes I believe) came up with this idea, but it turns out that driving with headlights on in full daylight reduces accidents. It has absolutely nothing to do with how many dark hours there are during winter or summer.

[ Parent ]

arctic circle (none / 1) (#128)
by Tycho Brahe on Sun Dec 21, 2003 at 09:59:33 AM EST

Driving with headlights on 24/7/365,25 makes you far more noticable, esp in twilight or low sun. The closer to the poles you get, the longer the twilight, apprx 1,5 hrs here at 64N now in dec (that is 1,5 hrs both at dawn and at dusk so, about 3 hrs altogether). Also the sun rises up to aprx 25 so it is always into your eyes and cars coming from the sun are more or less invisible without headlights. BTW the artic circle is at ca. 66,30 N and there it is 1 (one) sunless day in the winter and 1 (one) day without sunset in the summer. For 6 months of either you presumably have to go up to the pole, but I suspect that even there you get 3-4 month daylight and the same of night.

[ Parent ]
Daytime Running Lights (none / 0) (#135)
by superflex on Tue Dec 23, 2003 at 01:36:22 PM EST

Yes, absolutely. Having your lights on in the day makes you more visible and has a notable effect on accident rates.

As previous posters have mentioned, the Scandanavian countries have rules about drivers turning their lights on. The onus is on the driver, though, so if your car doesn't have DRL you have to remember to turn on your lights.

All new vehicles in Canada are required by law to have DRL's, and it's been that way for awhile. There is often a fine-print blurb at the bottom of the screen in car commercials in North America that says "Canadian models equipped with Daytime Running Lights", for ads aired in Canada and the U.S. In Canada if your car doesn't have DRL you're not required to turn your low-beams on.

Here is a very informative webpage from the IIHS on DRLs.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps because it's a safety feature now aped by (none / 1) (#52)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 08:56:35 AM EST

most new cars.

--
"Libertarian parenting? Hah! I've got merit badges for nagging and bossing, not to mention the much-coveted Order of the Imperious Order."[ Parent ]

0.00274 ? (none / 0) (#58)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 09:49:45 AM EST



Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
360 degrees (none / 2) (#53)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 08:59:24 AM EST

The reason for 360 degrees is straight forward. 360 is evenly divisible by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 45.

In other words, 360 is a very convenient number for people doing math by hand.

--
"Libertarian parenting? Hah! I've got merit badges for nagging and bossing, not to mention the much-coveted Order of the Imperious Order."[ Parent ]

Influenced by the number of years in a day n/t (none / 2) (#56)
by kesuari on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 09:12:07 AM EST



[ Parent ]
And vice-versa (none / 2) (#72)
by bobpence on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 05:29:13 PM EST

Most days seem like months or like minutes to me, few seem like 360 years.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
LoL. (none / 1) (#81)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 10:32:54 PM EST

And I replied to him without noticing he had it backwards. I saw what he meant, rather than what he wrote, I guess.

--
"Libertarian parenting? Hah! I've got merit badges for nagging and bossing, not to mention the much-coveted Order of the Imperious Order."[ Parent ]

Possibly. (none / 2) (#80)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 10:31:36 PM EST

But "handy" numbers like 360 have been put to a lot of different uses. Being divisible by lots of other numbers is why there are 16 ounces in a pound, (divisble by 2, 4, 8) and 24 hours in a day (2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 12).

This even extended to money, hence "pieces of 8" and so on.

--
"Libertarian parenting? Hah! I've got merit badges for nagging and bossing, not to mention the much-coveted Order of the Imperious Order."[ Parent ]

360 is not divisible by all of those numbers n/t (2.25 / 4) (#59)
by skelter on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 10:42:10 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Of course it is... (2.75 / 4) (#69)
by Kwil on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 03:25:43 PM EST

..it's just not evenly divisible by all of them.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Maybe it's just comp sci speak... (3.00 / 4) (#101)
by skim123 on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 01:48:56 PM EST

But when someone says, x divides y, it means that y = 0 (mod x), no? I thought this was the definition of the word "divides" and "divisible" and "divisability". Therefore, 25 does not divide 360... no need to use monikers like evenly.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Oops. 360 is divisible by 24, not 25. (none / 2) (#79)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 10:28:33 PM EST

My bad. All the others are okay, however.

--
"Libertarian parenting? Hah! I've got merit badges for nagging and bossing, not to mention the much-coveted Order of the Imperious Order."[ Parent ]

360 degrees and 24 hours. (2.85 / 7) (#75)
by it certainly is on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 08:07:39 PM EST

Babylonians. They like base 60. Why? 60 divides evenly by 60, 30, 20, 15, 12, 10, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1. What a great number!

They mapped their experience of the world into base 60. So, 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour. I'm not sure where the 24 hours comes from. Here's a lot of guesses. I personally like the one that says a second was one heartbeat, and they then counted the hours in a day based on that, rounding to the nearest whole figure which was 24. Or it could be they divided night and day into 12 parts each -- they liked 12 a lot too.

We know how long a day is, based on the time between the sun being in the centre of the sky at midday. We also know how long a year is -- it's the time it takes for the sun to reach both its equinoxes. So, 360 days in a year, if you don't have decent measurements, are wrong about the equinox by a day or two each way, and really love base 60. 60*6 is 360, and there are 360 days in a year! That's backed up by having 12 30-day lunar cycles in a year. The lunar cycles (and 60 being divisible by 12) explain the 12 signs of the zodiac, one for each month, what with the view of the heavens changing every month.

Given that the universe obviously follows precise mathematical arithmetic, why not use 360 divisions in a circle? It apes the days taken for the sun to orbit the earth.

Cecil Adams agrees with me

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

The breakfast thing (2.33 / 6) (#83)
by Eater on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 10:48:12 PM EST

I'm pretty sure that was around a LOOOONG time before Kelloggs picked it up, but I can't site any sources about that or the statement's validity because I'm too damn lazy.

Eater.

[ Parent ]
24 Hours (3.00 / 4) (#96)
by pmc on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 06:57:19 AM EST

This goes back to the Ancient Egyptians and their way of keeping time.

The year was divided into 36 periods of 10 days called decans. Each decan was marked by the rising of a particular star after sunset called a decanal star. Of these the most important was Sirius, and it was the rising of Sirius that signified that the Innundation of the Nile (the most important event in the Ancient Egyptian calender) was due. This rising of Sirius marked the start of the new Egyptian year, and the end of the year was padded out with a couple of extra days waiting for the rising of Sirius.

Every night of the year would see at least 12 decanal stars rise (usually more), and it became natural to divide the night into 12 periods. Similarly they divided the non-night (i.e. the daytime and twilights) in to 12 periods - 10 for the day and one for each of the twilights. Hence the 24 period day arrived. Note that the periods were not all of the same length of time and would vary from day to day and period to period.

[ Parent ]

Is xutopia really (2.16 / 6) (#67)
by rachsumat on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 01:55:43 PM EST

Cliff Clavin??!!??
--
"Be the wire. Shhhh. Wires don't talk..."
Just who is this Cliff Clavin?? (nt) (none / 1) (#68)
by xutopia on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 02:41:00 PM EST



[ Parent ]
cliff from cheers (none / 0) (#70)
by rachsumat on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 03:47:45 PM EST

I believe he'd always relate various trivia (most of the time he was making it up). I could easily imagine Cliff relating the ones from this submission...
--
"Be the wire. Shhhh. Wires don't talk..."
[ Parent ]
Japanese and photography (2.00 / 5) (#73)
by Pseudonym on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 07:08:29 PM EST

I believe that in Japan you can give photographs as gifts, which partly explains why the photographic culture is still in place. Can anyone confirm?


sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f(q{sub f{($f)=@_;print"$f(q{$f});";}f});
+1 SP (2.28 / 7) (#76)
by Murphy Law on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 08:14:58 PM EST

Interesting and enjoyable read. I'd like to see more articles like this.
---

Contrary to popular opinion, the only certainties in life are death and stupidity.

what about modern things? (1.00 / 8) (#82)
by horny smurf on Wed Dec 17, 2003 at 10:38:23 PM EST

What I really want to know is the origin of Taco Snotting

The Fork (2.83 / 6) (#92)
by the wanderer on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 04:04:42 AM EST

The fork was allready used in the middle east long before you date it. It was brought to europe (italy) in the 11th century, where the usage of it spread. The fork made it to the rest of europe in the following 500 years, but it was considered something exotic and wasn't used much, allthough it slowly grew in popularity.


david, the Lost Boy
the Written Pixel

More to read (none / 2) (#95)
by Rot 26 on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 06:48:23 AM EST

Henry Petroski has written a number of books on the origin of various tools and such through time. It doesn't really talk about customs (i.e. driving on the right, Japanese photographers, etc.) like this article does, but it's still very interesting. In particular I recommend his book "The Evolution of Useful Things" which talks about forks and other eating utensils, paperclips, pencils, zippers, wine bottles and corks and a whole host of other things.

He's written a few books on other aspects of engineering as well (i.e. buildings and bridges) if that type of thing sparks your interest more.
1: OPERATION: HAMMERTIME!
2: A website affiliate program that doesn't suck!
Soap that floats (2.77 / 9) (#100)
by strudeau on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 01:44:27 PM EST

After investigation they realized it was the soap that had been mixed longer that had the wonderful property.
More likely, they realized they could sell less soap (and more air) for the same amount of money.

Actually... (none / 0) (#138)
by Wain on Wed Dec 24, 2003 at 09:15:46 PM EST

the floating soap was very popular for people who were washing in streams and ponds/lakes (miners, sifters, whatnot). The soap was easier to find when they dropped it.

[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 0) (#139)
by Wain on Wed Dec 24, 2003 at 09:16:05 PM EST

the floating soap was very popular for people who were washing in streams and ponds/lakes (miners, sifters, whatnot).
The soap was easier to find when they dropped it.


[ Parent ]
Eight glasses a day (2.71 / 7) (#106)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 06:33:11 PM EST

That's probably about right and something you already do.  Allow me to explain.

As others have pointed out, people would drink liquids in eight ounce servings back in the day.  Nowadays, 12 ounces is more common.  The rule isn't eight "large" glasses, but eight eight ounce servings.  That's 64 ounces or a little more than five glasses by todays standards.

Also most liquid beverages can be counted towards this total.  Caffineated and alcholic beverages don't count because they make you pee.

You'll probably just drink enough water naturally.  And you probably consume at least 64 ounces a day.  (I seem to drink a lot more and I'm not forcing myself.)

On a related note, if you're trying to lose weight water should be the only liquid you drink.  When your thirsty, it's because you want water.  If you wanted calories, you'd be hungry.  So your taking in calories your body doesn't even want.  What's worse, your body doesn't seem to even notice liquid calories and doesn't really shut off hunger from it.  I read of a study in Men's Health which showed that drinking an extra can of pop a day caused subjects to gain more weight than eating an extra bowl of ice cream.  The ice cream eaters apparently ate less at other times without thinking about it.  The pop drinkers apparently did not.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

not entirely true (2.75 / 4) (#119)
by evilpckls on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 08:09:27 PM EST

there was a period of time when, in WINTER, i drank far, far more than that. i was so thirsty, and it wasnt because my body needed water. it all went right through. what my body really wanted was salt, which plays a big part in dehydration, as well. you go to the hospital for rehydration, they give you saline, because your body requires some salt. when i realized it was salt that i needed, i put a tiny amount of salt in a glass of water, and my body went "ahhhhh", instead of "yuck",

-------
"This is proof that fish geeks are just weird. You look like you've wet your pants, and I have a fish in my coat." --nstenz
[ Parent ]

Ironic you should mention that (none / 2) (#124)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Sat Dec 20, 2003 at 04:36:23 PM EST

Football players often drink pickle juice as recovery drink for the saltly water.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour
[ Parent ]
I'm more interested in knowing. (2.20 / 5) (#109)
by V on Thu Dec 18, 2003 at 11:52:03 PM EST

Why japanese consider tentacle rape and big eyes erotic.

Or why Germany and Japan have such a big scat porn industry. Does it have something to do with WWII?

V.
---
What my fans are saying:
"That, and the fact that V is a total, utter scumbag." VZAMaZ.
"well look up little troll" cts.
"I think you're a worthless little cuntmonkey but you made me lol, so I sigged you." re
"goodness gracious you're an idiot" mariahkillschickens

Hello. (3.00 / 5) (#117)
by it certainly is on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 10:36:53 AM EST

Tentacle rape owes to the fact that the Japanese film censors would not allow erect cartoon penises penetrating schoolgirl vaginas, but somehow mutant tentacles were OK. Every two-bit hentai producer started using this loophole.

Anime uses big eyes because producers were copying Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astroboy. Tezuka was copying the Betty Boop cartoons. You'd have to ask Max Fleischer why he thought big eyes were erotic.

I have no idea why Germany and Japan have a bit scat porn industry, but Germany has been the leader in BDSM (of which scat and golden showers and other degradations are sub-fetishes) for centuries. Apparently, German travellers taught the Japanese about most of this stuff.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.
[ Parent ]

Big Eyes = Youthful Appearance (2.75 / 4) (#126)
by scoby on Sat Dec 20, 2003 at 08:54:44 PM EST

Big eyes are attractive to most males because younger women's eyes are proportionately larger. Men are attracted to younger women because of the better chance they have to bear young. Either that or we're all just pervs
ts maith leath na hoibre
[ Parent ]
Nice Irish sig... (none / 1) (#127)
by Eric_ on Sun Dec 21, 2003 at 07:50:13 AM EST

"tus maith leath na hoibre" Have not seen that in awhile thanx for the smile... My fav is this "Bionn dha insint ar sceal agus dha leagan deag ar amhran" There are two versions of/two sides to every story & (at least) twelve versions of every song. P.S. Gaelic IS A PAIN IN THE ASS TO LEARN!!!!!!!!!!!!
"Pico When I'm Drunk Vi When I'm Sober"
[ Parent ]
big eyes make it easier to portray emotion (none / 0) (#129)
by auraslip on Sun Dec 21, 2003 at 06:54:57 PM EST


___-___
[ Parent ]
big eyes make it easier to portray emotion (none / 0) (#130)
by auraslip on Sun Dec 21, 2003 at 06:55:01 PM EST


___-___
[ Parent ]
The male circumcision lie in America (1.57 / 7) (#112)
by armonica on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 08:13:15 AM EST

Why do people in the US routinely circumcise?

Not a "snip", it is 15 square inches.

Women should pay attention to this. Circumcision hurts you too! You think this is a joke, it isn't. It is just like female circumcision.

In the US, nearly all males undergo circumcision within the first few hours of being born. Male Genital Mutilation, sexual assault and child abuse is more like it. If you are about to have a child or one in the future you should dispell the myth that circumcision is healthy or avoids disease. Most of the world's (around 80%) men are NOT circumcised and get along without problems. Look at http://www.noharmm.org/education.htm unless you simply can't handle the truth. The doctors violate every one of their ethical promises when they recommend this procedure (do no harm, cut off healthy tissue and so on). They will often lie to you and tell you it doesn't violate their oath.

It is also considered cosmetic surgery, the ONLY cosmetic surgery that insurance plans cover.
Everyone should get together and start suing the doctors, hospitals and insurance companies that do this. If you are around 18 years old and were circumcised it is likely that you can, see a (good malpractice) lawyer. Don't hold it against your parents by the way. They were probably told a very convincing lie or weren't asked at all.

Lets push for the anti female genital mutilation law to be replaced with a gender neutral law. Why should only women be protected.



circumcision (none / 1) (#120)
by horny smurf on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 11:11:52 PM EST

I don't know how true it is, but I've heard it become more common after WWII since that was one way Germans checked if someone was jewish.

I've heard the Iraqis checked the US POWs during Gulf War I.



[ Parent ]

circumcision (2.66 / 6) (#125)
by tgibbs on Sat Dec 20, 2003 at 08:36:49 PM EST

It is just like female circumcision.

While there are some reasonable arguments agaisnt male circumsion, the fact is that the vast majority of circumcised men get along just fine, and everybody knows this. Suggesting that female "circumcision" is equivalent only tends to undermine concern regarding this far more drastic surgery, which in some forms includes the removal of much of the clitoris and labia, and more closely resembles the "operation" performed by Loreena Bobbit than the practice of male circumcision.

[ Parent ]

When you attempt... (none / 0) (#140)
by Tatarigami on Fri Dec 26, 2003 at 02:52:20 AM EST

...to hijack a thread to serve your own political goals, you're driving with Hitler.

[ Parent ]
Amazing (none / 0) (#144)
by DominantParadigm on Sun Jan 04, 2004 at 08:58:49 AM EST

A Republican American who opposes circumcision. I am floored.

Caller:So you're advocating bombing innocent children? Howard Stern:Yes, of course!


[ Parent ]
japanese SAQ [mlp] (none / 0) (#114)
by neetij on Fri Dec 19, 2003 at 09:29:33 AM EST

A neat site with an S.A.Q. on Japan and its' quirky customs.
http://www3.tky.3web.ne.jp/~edjacob/saq.html


360 Degrees/Days (none / 0) (#131)
by BLuP1 on Sun Dec 21, 2003 at 10:37:56 PM EST

OKay... Given:the year is 365.25 days (ish).

The "ancients" were pretty picky about calendars, and when the equinoxes were, etc. I don't think they were mis-counting the year to 360 days. My source says 12 months of 30 days plus 5 "feast" days to celebrate the birth of the new year. (with an extra feast day every 4 years...)

Feel free to correct me.

Element of 360 deg. (none / 0) (#133)
by RadiantMatrix on Mon Dec 22, 2003 at 07:15:45 PM EST

The Babylonians were fond of numbers 6, 12, and 60.  Their religion and mathematics were based on it.  Thus we have 60 minutes in an hour and 12 hours in a half-day.

The circle is 6 segments of 60 degrees each, and has been ever since Babylon started working with circles.  That's why modern mathematicians hardly ever work with deg. but rather RAD.

----------
I don't like spam - Parent ]

Nitpick (none / 0) (#136)
by damiam on Tue Dec 23, 2003 at 04:40:06 PM EST

As long as you're going to go to two decimal places, you might as well get it right. The year is closer to 365.24 days long - hence the weird stuff about multiples of 100 not being leap years unless they're also multiples of 400.

[ Parent ]
Sabotaging the truth. (none / 1) (#132)
by maysonl on Mon Dec 22, 2003 at 07:38:27 AM EST

a couple of interesting comments found from a Google on "sabotage origin":

>the rails if you will. <g> My understanding was that
>sabotage dates from when French partisans attempted to wreak
>German (Prussian?) trains by "tinkering" with sabots. I
>mention Prussians because it *might* date from the 1871 war.

For what it's worth, the Oxford English Dictionary dates the first recorded use of the word "sabotage" in English to 1910 - and there it was referring to striking French railway workers (and the word was in italics, implying it was seen as a foreign term). Other early uses were in 1916 (referring to Australian political protestors) and 1918, where it was included in a "Dictionary of Military Terms". The French verb "saboter" apparently has three related meanings: "to clomp around in wooden shoes making a loud noise", "to execute badly, or mess up (eg, a piece of music), and the English meaning of "to sabotage".

and

I haven't looked at your source, but sabot is also, I think, what the french call wooden railroad ties...wooden shoes for the rails if you will. <g> My understanding was that sabotage dates from when French partisans attempted to wreak German (Prussian?) trains by "tinkering" with sabots. I mention Prussians because it *might* date from the 1871 war.

Heard this one in Star Trek VI :) (none / 0) (#143)
by cosmokramer on Fri Jan 02, 2004 at 07:02:44 PM EST

But I think it's true..

Four hundred years ago, workers whose lives were threatened by automation, flung their wooden shoes, called Sabots, into the machines to stop them. Hence the word Sabo-tage.

[ Parent ]

Japan Photos (none / 0) (#137)
by F a l c o n on Wed Dec 24, 2003 at 08:49:16 AM EST

The story I actually heard (and damn, I was in Japan earlier this year, I could have asked) is that it's a mixture of corporate and family culture.

See, most japanese people work a lot. They also still treasure family ties. More often than not, the combination means they can not go on holiday with the people they'd like to, because only one or two of them can get free days at the same time.
So they bring photographs home in order to share the experience with the rest of the family.
--
Back in Beta (too many new features added): BattleMaster

Origin of the word "bit" (none / 1) (#142)
by gdad2 on Wed Dec 31, 2003 at 09:37:06 AM EST

From http://www.atariarchives.org/mlb/chapter2.php
It's interesting that the word bit is frequently explained as a shortening of the phrase BInary digiT. In fact, the word bit goes back several centuries. There was a coin which was soft enough to be cut with a knife into eight pieces. Hence, pieces of eight. A single piece of this coin was called a bit and, as with computer memories, it meant that you couldn't slice it any further. We still use the word bit today as in the phrase two bits, meaning 25 cents.

Origins of the things we do and say | 142 comments (103 topical, 39 editorial, 1 hidden)
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