Jun
30
2010
2

Which occupations have a disease or affliction named after them?

baker baking breadThere are several disease or afflictions which are named after or often associated with a particular job or occupation. These are known as occupational diseases. Advances in medical knowledge and improved working conditions have meant that some are now rarely found. Probably the most well known is Hatter‘s Shakes. The use of mercuric nitrate in [more…]

Jun
30
2010
2

In what different ways can a fire be started without matches?

face-in-fireIn what different ways can a fire be started—without matches, of course? Matches have been around a lot longer than I thought, appearing in Europe around 1530. A 10th century Chinese book reports that splints of pinewood impregnated with sulfur were invented and used as matches in 677 AD.  But this article is not about [more…]

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Jun
29
2010
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What is the origin of the “Tom and Jerry”?

tom-and-jerry-life-in-londonFor those who don’t know, a Tom and Jerry is a mixed drink, a variety of eggnog made with rum and a little brandy, usually served warm, popular at Christmas time. So why is it called a Tom and Jerry? It is a long story and has a long history. The drink was invented by [more…]

Jun
28
2010
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Were Victorian feather fans decorated with real hummingbirds?

victorian feather fan with stuffed humming birdThey may seem horrible to us, but feather fans with a cute dead hummingbird were a Victorian fashion for more than twenty years. Stuffed and wired into shape, the bird was posed stylishly, sometimes along with feather flowers or even insects. The fans weren’t the folding type, but the kind that was sometimes called a [more…]

Jun
28
2010
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What was “the twist”, a popular dance in the early 1960s?

dancing-the-twistBeing a conservative young man back in the early sixties, I had avowed that I wouldn’t dance the twist, but then I was on the dance floor when the next number was the twist, and I didn’t want to stop dancing—with “her.” Wikipedia gives a good description of the dance: “The Twist is performed by [more…]

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Jun
27
2010
1

What were Australians discussing from 1960 to 1963?

the-twistThe debates held by the Mosman Debating Society in the first few years of the 1960s were diverse, but as always included international affairs: That darkest Africa should be declared black (defeated) That we approve of Britain’s entry into the Common Market (carried) That Indonesia is justified in her claim to West New Guinea (no [more…]

Jun
26
2010
5

What does a bra have to do with arms and the man?

bra-fenceBras don’t have anything to do with Arms And The Man (if you are thinking Hemingway’s book of that name), nor with the opening line of Virgil’s Aeneid: “Arma virumque cano …”. However, there is a connection between the word brassiere and arms and men of arms. In French the word for arm is bras, [more…]

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Jun
25
2010
1

Why is soccer called football in some countries?

soccer-footballA journalist in The Times of London recently bemoaned the use of the Americanism “soccer”, but in so doing he displayed his ignorance, for soccer is an English word. It has fallen into disuse in England but remains in use in the US, in Australia, and in many other countries. If we go back far [more…]

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Jun
24
2010
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What are County Land Ownership Maps?

land ownership map Knox County IllinoisLand ownership maps are an important resource for researching your ancestors in the United States. The most useful ones for researching your family history were created between 1860 and 1918 when America was being opened up to settlers and the railroads. As the name suggests, the majority of maps were drawn up to show land [more…]

Jun
23
2010
1

Why do diaspora communities tend to be more conservative than their homeland?

african-diasporaDiaspora is used not only with reference to the scattering of the Jews by the Romans in 70 AD (or by the Assyrians in 722 BC, or other events that dispersed them from Judea). It can also be used to describe other communities separated from their homeland, be they immigrant settlements, religious exclaves, colonial and [more…]

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