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 [&hel[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 [&hel[more...]

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Jun
29
2010
0

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 [&hel[more...]

Jun
28
2010
0

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 [&hel[more...]

Jun
28
2010
0

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 [&hel[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 [&hel[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, [&hel[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 [&hel[more...]

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Jun
24
2010
0

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 [&hel[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 [&hel[more...]

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Jun
23
2010
1

What were Australians discussing during the late 1950s?

junior-farmers-picnic-transistor-radioJohnnie Ray’s music was somewhere between jazz and what was about to become rock’n’roll. He also made metaphorical waves with his “animated stage persona”, so it’s not surprising that a lively debate about Johnnie Ray was one of those held in the late 1950s by the Mosman Debating Society. That we would tear the pants [&hel[more...]

Jun
22
2010
1

What is Vitameatavegemin?

lucille ball vitameatavegeminWhat is Vitameatavegemin? While Australia has its Vegemite and the UK has its Marmite, the United States had its Vitameatavegemin. Vitameatavegemin was a fictional health tonic promoted by the character of Lucy Ricardo (Lucile Ball) in an episode of the classic “I Love Lucy” series in the 1950s. It was supposed to contain the health [&hel[more...]

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Jun
22
2010
0

Which songs feature Marmite in their lyrics?

marmite-loveMarmite is a sticky dark brown British yeast-based salty spread. Unlike its Australian rival Vegemite, which has inspired some professional love/hate Vegemite songs, the Marmite songs appear to be amateur productions—although some of them do have rather poignant or even disturbing lyrics. UK YouTuber Sheepstar15 sings lovingly about the “small brown jar” that helps her [&hel[more...]

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Jun
21
2010
0

What were Australians discussing during the early 1950s?

1950s-beachThe early 1950s saw post-war rationing replaced by mass production, and an increased interest in the discussion of lifestyle and cultural issues at the Mosman Debating Society, including these topics: That the influence of Hollywood is beneficial (tied) That the modern emphasis on soap proves we are dirtier than our ancestors (tied) That the arts [&hel[more...]

Jun
20
2010
1

How does Nokia’s N900 cellphone compare with the iPhone 4?

apple-phoneApple’s iPhone 4 and Nokia’s N900 are both advanced mobile phones with web browsers and music players, yet they are very different products. Apple’s iPhone offers a streamlined but controlled user experience, while Nokia’s N900 is unconstrained and powerful but perhaps somewhat uneven and unrefined. For many purchasers their preference will depend on the included [&hel[more...]

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Jun
19
2010
0

What were Australians debating during the late 1940s?

new-look-christian-dior-1948World War II was over, but there was still fear and uncertainty, and international topics featured strongly on the agenda of the Mosman Debating Society during the second half of the 1940s: That Mr Churchill is the right man to govern the Empire in peace (carried) That it were better for the world if the [&hel[more...]

Jun
18
2010
0

Which songs feature Vegemite in their lyrics?

vegemite-loveThe iconic sandwich spread Vegemite, beloved by generations of Australians, features in the lyrics of several popular songs. The first song about Vegemite was the jingle used on advertisements for the spread, although I can’t remember hearing or seeing this ad even though I grew up in Australia. I don’t doubt that the jingle was [&hel[more...]

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Jun
17
2010
0

What were Australians debating during the early 1940s?

world-war-ii-marchThe Mosman Debating Society debates of the early 1940s started with topics related to World War II: That the centre of the British Empire should be transferred to Australia That Britain should bomb Germany That women like war That Australia is capable of defending itself unaided All of those took place in 1940. After that, [&hel[more...]

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Jun
17
2010
0

How do you make money from human hair?

wigs in a shop windowIt may at first appear rather strange, but human hair is a valuable commodity to be bought and sold. Human hair is mainly used to make hair extensions, wigs and toupees, jacket linings, and for the extraction and manufacture of an amino acid L-cysteine used in the production of bread and pet foods in some [&hel[more...]

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Jun
16
2010
0

Can I catch Legionnaires disease from my car?

windscreen-washer-reservoirIt was noticed in 2006 that professional drivers were five times as likely to catch Legionnaire’s disease as anyone else, and the UK’s Health Protection Agency set out to find out why. They surveyed the habits of survivors of the disease, and of a control group without the disease. It turned out that those who [&hel[more...]

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