Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Craziest Speeches Ever Delivered at the U. N.


History is rich with memorable orations delivered by the world's leaders as nations convene to discuss the critical issues of the day. From the impassioned to the provocative to the truly bizarre, here are  the 10 most unforgettable remarks to come out of the United Nations general assembly speeches in the last sixty years. 


Year: 1957
Quote: The Security Council regards this as a dispute. It is not a dispute for territory. There is only one problem before you . That problem is the problem of aggression.
Impact: With this epic filibuster during a debate on Kashmir, Indian U.N. envoy Krishna Menon holds the record for the longest speech in the history of the U.N. Security Council. In total it lasted over eight hours. Menon actually collapsed from exhaustion partway through and had to be hospitalized. He returned later and continued for another hour while a doctor monitored his blood pressure.
Year: 1960
Quote: Were Kennedy not a millionaire, illiterate, and ignorant, then he would obviously understand that you cannot revolt against the peasants.
Impact: Cuban President Fidel Castro's  debut speech at the U.N. clocked in at four and a half hours, the longest ever in the General Assembly. Castro's first visit to the United States in 1959 had been a bit friendlier, but by 1960 he was firmly in the Soviet Camp and used his speech to blast U.S. imperialism and insult John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, the U.S. presidential candidates at the time. Castro provided another bizarre memory from that year's assembly by keeping live chickens in his hotel room.


Year: 1960
Quote: Mr. President, call that toady of American imperialism to order.
Impact: Soviet Premier Nikita Krushchev provided one of the cold war's most iconic moments when, in an attempt to silence a Filipino delegate who was railing against Soviet imperialism, he issued the above epithet, removed his shoe, and began banging it on the table. The gesture has become a classic example of overheated rhetoric, but it shouldn't have been all that surprising coming from the man who coined the phrase, we will bury you.
Year: 1960
Quote: It so happens that I have here today a concrete example of Soviet espionage so that you can see for yourself.
Impact: During a debate over the shooting down of an American U-2 spy plane over Soviet territory, U.S. Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge decided to go on the offensive. He took out a wooden seal that had been presented to the U.S. embassy in Moscow by the Soviet-American Friendship Society and then proceeded to extract a tiny microphone out of the eagle's beak with a pair of tweezers. The Soviet resolution condemning the U.S. spy flights was defeated.
Year: 1974
Quote: An old world order is crumbling before our eyes, as imperialism, colonialism, neocolonialism, and racism, whose chief form is Zionism, ineluctably perish.
Impact: The Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman was invited to address the General Assembly for the first time at the request of the non-aligned movement, a coalition of developing countries that has been historically critical of Israel in the U.N., Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat took the stage wearing fatigues and delivered a blistering attack on Zionism. One year later, the notorious "Zionism equals racism" was passed and Israel's relations with the U.N. have been, at best, uneasy ever since.
Year: 1987
Quote: Before consulting the hotheads who present various military options such as a military invasion: remember, President Reagan, Rambo only exists in the movies.
Impact: Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega used the platform of the U.N. to assail U.S policy in Central America, particularly the financing of the Contra rebels and supporting the Somoza dictatorship, which Ortega said bled the Nicaraguan people dry. The angry speech prompted a walkout from the U.S. delegation. The people of Nicaragua may have to sit and listen to him, but I don't, said then U.S. Ambassador Vernon Walters.
Year: 2006
Quote: The devil came here yesterday, and it smells of sulfur still.
Impact: Venezuela's president, Hugo Chavez, has always loved the spotlight that the General Assembly provides and it was never more in evidence than when, with a flourish, he compared U.S. president, George W. Bush, to Satan. Chavez also began his regular habit of using his speeches to plug books by prominent leftists authors, when he held up a book by U.S. professor Noam Chomsky. Chavez referred to this famous moment in his speech this year, saying that it no longer smells like sulfur now that Barack Obama is President.
Year: 2006
Quote: The picture that volunteer organizations try to give in order to solicit more assistance and more aid, have given a negative result.
Impact: At the 2006 speech, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir claimed that the ongoing slaughter in Darfur, which then President George W. Bush had recently referred to as genocide, was in fact a scheme cooked up by Western aid organizations to solicit funding. On the sidelines of the meeting, Bashir went further, blaming Israel and Zionist organizations for spreading lies in order to weaken the Sudanese government. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has made this claim as well.
Year: 2008
Quote: The dignity, integrity and rights of the American and European people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are a minuscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the U.S. in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner.
Impact: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has regularly used the UN as a platform to rail against Western powers, particularly his arch-enemy Israel. In his 2008 speech he accused the Zionist entity of an array of crimes including causing the South Ossetia war. Another notable feature of Ahmadinejad's speech is the heavy use of religious rhetoric and his use of Shiite religious teachings.
Year: 2009
Quote: It should not be called a security council, it should be called a terror council.
Impact: After 40 years in power, Libyan Leader Muammar al-Qaddafi spoke to the United Nations for the first time at this year's general assembly and certainly made up for lost time. In his 100 minute speech, Qaddafi listed half a century's worth of grievances and conspiracy theories including accusing the Untied States of developing swine flu and questioning the official record of the Kennedy assassination. Most of Qaddafi's wrath was reserved for the U.N. Security Council, which he likened to al Qaeda. Qaddafi's accommodations provided another sideshow at this year's assembly, as the Libyan leader was rebuffed in his attempts to set up a Bedouin tent in several New York-area locations before finally making up camp in Donald Trump's backyard.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Great Thinkers, Great Thoughts No. 20

1. A man who won't die for something is not fit to live.-Martin Luther King
Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) was an America clergyman, activist, and prominent leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He used the passive-resistance methods and teachings of Mahatma Gandhi to achieve civil rights, particularly for African-Americans.  His famous I Have a Dream speech was delivered during the 1963 March on Washington and established him as one of the greatest orators in American history. In 1964, King became the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize. He was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 4, 1968. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004. A U. S. Federal holiday was established in his honor in 1986.

2. Happiness makes up in height what it lacks in length. -Robert Frost
Robert Lee Frost (1874 -1963) was an American poet. He is highly praised for his realistic depictions of rural life and his command of American colloquial speech in his poems. His work frequently employed settings from rural life in the New England part of the U.S.A in the early twentieth century and using them to examine complex social and philosophical themes. He is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed American poets and Frost received four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry (1924, 1931, 1937 and 1943) .
3. Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. -Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born physicist who developed the theory of general relativity. Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the great intellects of modern history. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1921 for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect which later was pivotal in establishing the quantum theory. Einstein published more than 300 scientific papers and over 150 non-scientific works.  He once pointed out that Buddhism was the tradition that he felt fulfilled the criteria he thought necessary for a spiritual path adapted to the twentieth century. His great intelligence and originality have made the word "Einstein" synonymous with "genius".
4. Fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself. -Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe (born: Daniel Foe; c.1659-1661 to1731) was an English trader, writer, journalist, pamphleteer and spy, who gained fame for his novel Robertson Crusoe (1719). Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest novelists and he helped to popularize the novel in Britain. A prolific and versatile writer, he wrote more than 500 books, pamphlets and journals on a variety of topics including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology and the supernatural. He was also a pioneer of economic journal. Among his other works are The Further Adventures of Robertson Crusoe (1719), A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) and Moll Flanders (1722).
5. Beware verily there is a piece of flesh in the body of man, which when good, the whole body is good and when bad, the whole body is bad, and that is the heart. -Muhammad
Muhammad (full name: Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim; aka:  Mohammad, Mohammed, or Muhammed; c.570 –c. 632 ) was a religious leader from Mecca who unified Arabia into a single religion, Islam. He is believed by Muslims and Baha'is to be a prophet of God and by most Muslims to be the last prophet sent by God for mankind. Non-Muslims regard Muhammad as only the founder of Islam. Muslims consider him to be the restorer of the original monotheistic faith rooted in Adam, Noah, Abraham and Jesus. The revelations which Muhammad reported receiving until his death form the verses of the Quran, regarded by Muslims as the “Word of God” and around which their religion is based. Besides the Quran, Muhammad’s life and traditions are also upheld by Muslims as the source of Sharia Law.
6. Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind. And therefore is wing's Cupid painted blind. -William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare  (1564 -1616) was an English poet and playwright . He is often regarded to be the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of about 38 plays, 152 sonnets, two long narrative poems and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. Among his greatest plays are Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar and Romeo and Juliet.
7. Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and diligence. - Abigail Adams
Abigail Adams (née: Smith; 1744-1818) was the wife of John Adams, second President of the United States, and the mother of John Quincy Adams, sixth President of the United States. She is remembered for the many letters she wrote to her husband while he stayed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, during the Continental Congresses. Her husband frequently sought her advice and their letters are filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics. The letters also serve as eyewitness accounts of the American Revolution home front. Abigail Adams was an advocate of married women's property rights and more opportunities for women, particularly in the field of education. Women, she believed, should not submit to laws not made in their interest by men. She died of typhoid fever and is buried beside her husband and son in a crypt located in the United First Parish Church (also known as the Church of the Presidents) in Quincy, Massachusetts. Her last words were, Do not grieve, my friend, my dearest friend. I am ready to go. And John, it will not be long.
8. If you want happiness for an hour; take a nap.   If you want happiness for a day; go fishing.   If you want happiness for a month; get married.   If you want happiness for a year; inherit a fortune.   If you want happiness for a lifetime; help someone else. - old Chinese saying
9. People can be more forgiving than you can imagine. But you have to forgive yourself. Let go of what's bitter and move on. -Bill Cosby
William Henry "Bill" Cosby, Jr. (born:1937) is an American comedian, actor, author, television producer, educator, musician and political activist. A veteran stand-up performer, he got his start at various clubs, then landed a starring role in the 1960s action show, I Spy. He later starred in his own television program, The Bill Cosby Show. Cosby has also acted in a number of films. He has received 10 honorary doctorates, 4 television Emmy Awards, and 7 Grammy awards for comedy recordings. In 2002, He was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom and in 2003, he was awarded The Bob Hope Humanitarian Award. In 2002, the scholar Molefi Kete Asante included him in his book, the 100 Greatest African Americans.
10.  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. -The Bible, 1 Corinthians13: 4-8.
The first letter (epistle) by Paul (c.5AD-c.67AD), the apostle, to the people of Corinth (Corinthians) is the seventh book of the New Testament of the Bible. Paul and "Sosthenes (dates: unknown) our brother" wrote this epistle  which contains some of the best-known phrases in the New Testament. The date of this epistle is unknown.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

News You May Have Missed, No. 40

Ancient Dentistry
1. An ancient cracked tooth repaired with a filling made of beeswax may be the earliest known example of therapeutic dentistry, researchers say. The tooth is 65 centuries old and was part of a man's jaw found more than 100 years ago in Slovenia. Definite evidence of ancient dentistry is rare. The oldest examples are 7,500- to 9,500-year-old molars found in Pakistan that had regular shaped cavities with concentric ridges drilled into them. Other, more questionable finds include a 5,500-year-old artificial tooth from Egypt. Scientists reported online today (Sept. 19) in the journal Plos ONE that they found the filling as they analyzed a 6,500-year-old lower jaw recovered from a cave near Trieste, Italy. The jaw, which once belonged to a 24- to 30-year-old man, included a left canine tooth possessing a vertical crack in its hard enamel and softer dentin layers. The severe wear and tear seen on the tooth was probably due to activities besides eating, the researchers said. For instance, men of the time might have used their teeth to soften leather or help make tools, and the women bit down on threads to hold them while weaving. The researchers found bees-wax had been applied to the left canine at about the time of the man's death. It was extremely difficult for somebody to identify the dentistry work by naked eye or simple tools, researcher Claudio Tuniz, a nuclear paleoanthropologist at the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics in Italy, told LiveScience. The lower jaw had remained at the international center "for 101 years without somebody noticing anything strange on the canine, Tuniz said. The researchers managed to figure out the age of the beeswax using a large ion accelerator, which let them see what carbon isotopes were in the wax. All isotopes of carbon have six protons but differ in the number of neutrons they possess. The carbon-14 isotope is unstable and decays over time, so analyzing the ratio of carbon-14 to other carbon isotopes can shed light on how much time has passed. The researchers also used X-rays from another powerful particle accelerator to get a 3D picture of the tooth with a resolution of about one-thousandth of a millimeter. They could not confirm whether this filling was made shortly before or after the person's death. If it was when the person was still alive, this finding is perhaps the most ancient evidence of prehistoric dentistry in Europe, said researcher Federico Bernardini, an archaeologist at the international center, in a statement. It may be the oldest known direct example of a therapeutic dental drilling uncovered to date, Bernardini added.
Spinal Disease Gene Discovery
2. The UK study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases looked at 4,600 people and found the PARK2 gene was linked to age-related disc problems. A third of middle-aged women have problems with at least one spinal disc and the condition is known to be inherited in up to 80% of patients. Experts said finding the gene could lead to new treatments being developed. Back pain costs the UK about £7 billion (approximately 14 billion dollars) a year in sickness leave and treatment costs, but the causes of the condition are not fully understood. In lumbar disc degeneration (LDD), discs become dehydrated and lose height, and the vertebrae next to them develop bony growths called osteophytes, leading to lower back pain. The King's College London researchers carried out MRI scans of all those in the study and looked at differences in their genetic make-up. They found variants of the PARK2 gene appeared to have an effect in people with degenerate discs and influence the speed at which their condition deteriorated. The researchers said that more research is now needed to find out how the gene influences the condition. And, they also said it could be that environmental factors such as diet and lifestyle could make what are known as epigenetic changes to the gene.
Education and Life-Spans
3. A study just released finds that less-educated whites are living shorter life spans than those who hold a high school or college degree. The disparity was most dramatic among women who hold a college degree versus a high school diploma. White women with advance level degrees are living an average of 83.9 years compared to 73.5 years among women who hadn't finished high school. And the study reports that women's life spans dropped by five years between 1990 and 2008. College-educated men of the same racial demographic are living around 13 years longer than those with lower level education. Though researchers are unclear on what is causing this decline, they speculate several factors have come into play, including increased obesity rates, rise in smoking, poor nutrition and lack of access to healthcare services. Several unrelated studies in recent years have noted a similar trend. One published in the January 2012 issue of the academic journal, Demography, found a link between education levels and general health. For both whites and (to a lesser extent) blacks, each additional year of education is associated with lower mortality risk, regardless of whether the year results in a credential: There appears to be no ceiling effect on the longevity benefits of education, the authors of the paper report. They reinforced that blacks benefit more in health when they earned diplomas, and suggest that some educational institutions offer the opportunity to detach from more economically depressed communities. The report, published last month in Health Affairs, an academic journal, documented aging trends between 1990 to 2008.

New Sars-like Virus
4. A new respiratory illness similar to the Sars virus that spread globally in 2003 and killed hundreds of people has been identified in a man who is being treated in Britain. The 49-year-old man, who was transferred to a London hospital by air ambulance from Qatar, is the second person confirmed with the coronavirus. The first case was a patient in Saudi Arabia who has since died. Officials are still determining what threat the new virus may pose. The World Health Organization has not recommended any travel restrictions. Prof John Watson, head of the respiratory diseases department at the UK's Health Protection Agency, said, In the light of the severity of the illness that has been identified in the two confirmed cases, immediate steps have been taken to ensure that people who have been in contact with the UK case have not been infected, and there is no evidence to suggest that they have. Further information about these cases is being developed for healthcare workers in the UK, as well as advice to help maintain increased vigilance for this virus. He said there was no specific evidence of the virus spreading from person to person and he had no advice for the public or returning travelers.


Two-headed Snake
5. According to U.S. television station WHNS, a family in South Carolina discovered a snake in the yard with a head on each end of its body. The Logan family was puzzled to make the find and are unsure how the creature survives, but have been taking care of the reptile for several weeks. Biology teachers at a nearby high school have identified it as a rouge earth snake, but say they have never seen a mutation like this. A two-headed snake is a rare occurrence, but when they are found, their heads are usually side by side. That this snake has heads on both ends of its body may make it one-of-a-kind. One head's bigger and one's more dominant than the other, but they both seem to control the body, the main head will do one thing then the other part is trying to go the opposite direction, the mother of the Logan family told WHNS. One head may be dominant, but the weaker brain still holds some control. The Logan family says they have seen the snake crawl one way, only to have the other head desire a change and slither in the other direction.


Castrated Men Live Longer
6. According to a new study, castrated men (sometimes called eunuchs) in the old Korean dynasty lived much longer than other men. The findings suggest that male sex hormones such as testosterone may be one reason men tend to have shorter life spans than women, the researchers said. The researchers studied genealogy records of noble members of the Imperial court of the Korean Chosun dynasty, which lasted from 1392 to 1910. The eunuchs lost their testicles in accidents -- usually after being bitten by dogs -- or underwent intentional castration to gain early access to the palace, according to a journal news release. Eunuchs lived 14 to 19 years longer than other men. Of the 81 eunuchs included in the study, three lived to be 100 or older. The incidence of centenarians among the eunuchs was at least 130 times greater than in developed countries, according to Kyung-Jin Min of Inha University and Cheol-Koo Lee of Korea University. They said the extended life spans of eunuchs can't be explained simply by the benefits of life in the palace, because they spent as much time outside the palace as inside it. And although the study showed an association between being castrated and a longer life span, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. The study was published in the journal Current Biology.


Food Contamination by Pesticides
7. It is easy to look around on the Internet and find lists of the best and worst fruits and vegetables ranked by the level of pesticide contamination. But, have you ever wondered which pesticides are the worst? That information can be found in the same study, the Pesticide Data Program. Roughly every year, the USDA tests a mix of domestic and imported food products for their pesticide levels, including fresh, canned, and frozen produce, meat and poultry, grains, water, and oddly, catfish. Samples are collected from states around the country, representing a majority of the population, and the results are then weighed against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) established thresholds for pesticide residues. For 2010, which is the latest year examined, the results were within acceptable standards on the whole. Although, whether you feel like the EPA’s standards are safe enough for you is a personal (and perhaps, even political) decision. However, the food in U.S. supermarkets comes increasingly from other countries (the Congressional Research Service estimates imports of fruits and vegetables alone have risen roughly 6 percent each year since 1990, with more than half the imports coming from Mexico, Canada, and Chile). The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, a treaty aimed at reducing the worldwide use of certain persistent and pervasive toxic chemicals, has been ratified by 177 countries and went into effect May 17, 2004. It was drafted and adopted with the support of the United Nations Environment Program. The United States is not a party to the convention. However, the reduction in the use of such chemicals by other countries who are party to the treaty still has a significant impact on Americans.
Not only do these pesticides make their way into our imported food, but some of them also travel readily and easily through the atmosphere. Many of these pesticides are a great cause of concern for several other reasons. They accumulate in increasing concentrations as they move up the food chain, attaching themselves to the fatty tissues of people, livestock, and other animals; they also tend to persist in the environment for a very long time and often contaminate sources of fresh water; and they are associated with a host of health issues, including disruption of mental and physical development, cancer, and weakening of immune systems. And Americans clearly care. In the wake of the economic downturn, sales of organic food have continued to climb. According to the latest report from the Organic Trade Association, sales of organic food (domestic and imported) totaled $31.5 billion in 2011, up 9.5 percent from the prior year. It looks like there are plenty of Americans who, amid growing concerns about the impact of pesticides and conventional farming practices on their health and on the environment, have made eating greener and healthier a priority.


Apes Laugh
8. Non-human primates may enjoy watching someone else trip on a banana peel, according to new research on laughter, which found that apes might appreciate slapstick humor. The research also helps to explain the origins of laughter and the social aspects of the behavior. Robin Dunbar, who co-authored one such study with Guillaume Dezecache, described what non-human primates might be amused by. The use of language-based jokes is clearly unique to humans, Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary psychology at the University of Oxford, told Discovery News. There is some suggestion that apes 'play practical jokes' or laugh at another's misfortune, such as the banana skin situation, but these are only casual observations. Human laughter derives from the play invitation vocalizations of Old World monkeys and apes, but this is normally confined to juveniles and adolescents; adults don't play, he continued. In apes, this is identifiably rather closer to human laughter, Dunbar explained, and bonobos in particular use laughter a lot in play contexts, even among adults. What seems to have happened is that humans have taken these monkey/ape play vocalizations and tweaked them and increased the frequency of their use. Human laughter still has an animalistic quality, in the sense that it involves a series of rapid exhalation-inhalation cycles comparable to other primate sounds; it's louder than human speech; and, like sneezing, laughter is contagious. Although a room full of people can laugh at one comic's joke, Dunbar and Dezecache suspected that the size of bonded natural laughter groups might be limited and similar to social grooming. The latter facilitates bonding and makes individuals feel good, promoting connections between others. Laughter can function in a similar way. For the study, accepted for publication in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, the researchers studied multiple social groups in bars throughout the United Kingdom, France and Germany. They took note of conversational subgroup size and laughter subgroup size, meaning the number of individuals laughing in an obviously coordinated way. The scientists found that laughter groups were limited to three to four individuals. We think laughter long predates the appearance of language in human evolution, and was co-opted from play as a mechanism to allow bonding between larger numbers of individuals, Dunbar explained. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, which are the neurochemicals used in bonding in monkeys and apes. Laughter allows us to increase the size of the bonding group because several people can laugh together; whereas grooming is, even in humans, a one-to-one activity, with only the recipient gaining the benefit of the endorphins. Marina Davila-Ross, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of Portsmouth, has studied laughter and smiles in apes and humans, and how such communication evolved. It is surprising that our group size limit for sharing laughter is generally three, especially when one considers its contagious quality, she told Discovery News. Nonetheless, this sharing is likely to help people to bond, notably more so than apes, who share laughter with only one other individual, she added.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Strange Facts

There are many strange facts of which most people are not be aware.
The following are some of these facts:

1. The human body creates and kills 15 million red blood cells per second.
2. The Mona Lisa, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), has no eyebrows. It was the fashion in the Renaissance in Florence, Italy, to shave them off.
3. The most popular first name in the world is Muhammad.
4. In Iceland, tipping at a restaurant is considered an insult.
5. Tablecloths were originally meant to be served as towels with which dinner guests could wipe their hands and faces after eating.
6. The Nobel Peace Prize medal depicts three naked men with their hands on each other's shoulders.
7. Because of the possibility of a crash, Britain's Prince Charles and Prince William never travel on the same airplane.
8. A lightning bolt generates temperatures five times hotter than those found at the sun's surface.
9. A violin contains about 70 separate pieces of wood.
10. Forest fires move faster uphill than downhill.
11. It takes glass one million years to decompose which means it never wears out and can be recycled an infinite amount of times.
12. Almost half the newspapers in the world are published in the United States and Canada.
13. A Boeing 747 airliner holds 57,285 gallons of fuel.
14. Dolphins sleep with one eye open.
15. About 3000 years ago, most Ancient Egyptians died by the time they were 30.
16. A sneeze travels out the mouth at over 100 m.p.h.
17. Slugs have 4 noses.
18. Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails.
19. Human beings blink over 10,000,000 times a year.
20. There are approximately fifty Bibles sold each minute across the world.
21. Rice paper does not have any rice in it.
22. Most dust particles in a house are made from dead skin.
23. Ernest Vincent Wright (1872-1939) wrote the novel, Gadsby, which contains over 50,000 words, but none of them contain the letter E.
24. There are more than 50,000 earthquakes throughout the world every year.
25. In Bangladesh, students as young as 15 can be jailed for cheating on their finals.
26. The penguin is the only bird which can swim but cannot fly.
27. Chinese fortune cookies were invented in America in 1918 by Charles Jung and he was not Chinese.
28. The praying mantis is the only insect that can turn its head.
29. One ragweed plant can release as many as one billion grains of pollen.
30. In the English language, a group of geese on the ground is a gaggle but a group of geese in the air is a skein.
31. The first product to have a bar code was Wrigley's chewing gum.
32. One-quarter of the bones in the human body are in the feet.
33. The most used letter in the English alphabet is E and the least used is Q.
32. Average life-span of a major league baseball is 7 pitches.
34. Nutmeg can extremely poisonous if injected intravenously.
35. Almost 85% of the universe is a form of dark matter.
36. An estimated 16,000 people worldwide are becoming infected with HIV every day.
37. Strong negative emotions lead to damage of immune system.
38. Due to pollution and overfishing, population of American, Asian and Europeans eels have declined up to 99%.
39. The dot over the letter "i" is called a tittle.
40. Humans are the only primates having pigment in the palms of their hands.
41. Only 22% of original forests on earth have remained.
42. A snail can sleep for three years.
43. There are no words in the dictionary that rhyme with orange, purple and silver.
44. The Statue of Liberty's index finger is eight feet long.
45. An octopus has three hearts.
46. Sharks can live up to 100 years.
47. An human eyeball weighs about 1 ounce.
48. Bananas grow pointing upwards.
49. The human body has 2-3 million sweat glands.
50. Bamboo can grow up to 3 ft in 24 hours.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Knowledge Quiz, No. 43

          I dislike the term trivia. No knowledge is trivial. All information contributes to the whole of an intelligent human being. And, it is an essential part of critical thinking. That is why I did not call this a Trivia Quiz. Instead, I am calling it a Knowledge Quiz.
*    *    *    *
Knowledge Quiz, No. 43
The answers are at the bottom
1. What is a gazebo?
2. What is a "Mae West"?
3. What is an epidural?
4. What is the capital of Costa Rica?
5. In religion, what is an icon?
6. Who invented the stethoscope?
7. What is a hope chest?
8. According to The Bible, how long did Noah live?
9. In what Shakespeare play do Rosencrantz and Guildenstern appear?
10. What was the original purpose of the building known as The Alamo?
11. What is Manneken Pis?
12. Why does the Leaning Tower of Pisa lean?
13. Who wrote the novel, A Farewell to Arms?
14. What is the medulla oblongata?
15. Who was Vasco da Gama?
16. What is involved the sport known as curling?
17. Who is Philip Glass?
18. What is the International Day of Peace?
19. What is taxonomy?
20. Who wrote the poem, Ozymandias?
1. A gazebo is a pavilion.  It is often made of wood, often octagonal in shape, sometimes have seats, and often appear in parks, town squares, gardens and open spaces. Gazebos are freestanding, roofed, and open on all sides They provide shade and shelter, also provide an ornamental element or focal point in a garden . Large gazebos in public parks often serve as bandstands or rain shelters.

2. "Mae West" is a term used for an inflatable, vest-like life preserver used on a ship. It is named after the film star Mae West (1893-1980) because of its resemblance to her curvaceous torso.

3. The term epidural is an all-inclusive term used to refer to techniques such as epidural analgesia and epidural anaesthesia. Epidural techniques frequently involve injections of drugs through a  catheter. The injection can result in a loss of  sensation  including the pain by blocking the transmission of signals through nerves in or near the spinal cord.

4. The capital of  the Central American nation of Costa Rica is San Jose. It is the nation's largest city. The population  of San  Jose is about 365,799 and comprise a about a third of the country's population.

5. An icon (Greek: meaning image) is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting. They are common in Eastern Christianity and in some Eastern Catholic churches. In Eastern Christianity and other icon-painting Christian traditions, the icon is generally a flat panel painting depicting a holy being or object such as  Jesus, Mary, saints, angels or the cross. Icons may also be cast in metal, carved in stone, embroidered on cloth, painted on wood, done in mosaic or fresco work, printed on paper or metal, etc. Comparable images from Western Christianity are generally not described as icons. Icons are sometimes venerated and some Christians believe certain icons have miraculous powers.

6. The stethoscope was invented in1816 by the Frenchman, Rene Laennec (1781-1826) at the Necker-Enfants Malades Hospital in Paris. It consisted of a wooden tube and was monaural. His device was similar to the common ear trumpet, the original hearing aid.

7. A hope chest (aka: dowry chest, cedar chest, glory box) is a chest used to collect items such as clothing and household linen, by unmarried young women in anticipation of married life. The term hope chest or cedar chest is used in the Midwest and South of the United States. In the United Kingdom, it is called the bottom drawer and it is called the glory box in Australia. The contents of the traditional hope chest included typical dowry items such as clothing, table linens, towels, bed linens, quilts and occasionally dishware.

8.  According to The Bible, Noah died 350 years after the Great Flood at the age of 950. The story of Noah and the ark is told in chapter 6-9 and followed by the story of the curse of Ham by Noah in the Biblical book of Genesis. The Noah and The Great Flood story is also in chapter 71 of the Quran . The Baha'i Faith regards the Ark and the Flood as symbolic. In Baha'i belief, only Noah's followers were spiritually alive, preserved in the ark of his teachings, as others were spiritually dead. The earliest written flood story is found in the Ancient Mesopotamian mythic tale, The Gilgamesh Epic. Many scholars believe that Noah and the Biblical great flood story found in Judaism, Christianity and Islam comes from ancient Mesopotamian myth. It is known that  Ancient Hebrews lived in Mesopotamia. And there is no scientific evidence that there was ever a world-wide flood.

9. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are characters in the play, Hamlet (1601), by William Shakespeare (1564 -1616).  They are courtiers who are sent by the king to spy on Hamlet. using their claimed friendship with him to gain his confidence. They are the alienated heroes and central focus of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966), an absurdist play by English playwright, Tom Stoppard (born: Tomáš Straüssler;1937). Both plays take place in Denmark. In Danish, the name Rosencrantz means rosary and Gyldenstjerne or Gyllenstierna means golden star.

10. The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission. The compound which originally comprised a sanctuary and surrounding buildings was built by the Spanish in the 18th century for the religious services and the religious education of local Native-Americans. In 1793, the mission was secularized and soon abandoned. Ten years later, it became a fortress housing the Mexican Army group the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, who likely gave the mission the name Alamo. The Battle of the Alamo (February 23-March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13 day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo near San Antonio de Bexar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas, USA). All but two of the Texan defenders were killed. The Alamo is now a museum.

11. Manneken Pis (Flemish: literally Little Man Pee, also known in French as le Petit Julien) is a famous Brussels, Belgium, landmark. It is a small bronze fountain sculpture depicting a naked little boy urinating into the fountain's basin. It was designed by Hieronymous Duquesnoy, the Elder, and put in place in the side of a building in 1618 or 1619. It is cultural significant to the city.  The figure has been repeatedly stolen. The current statue is a copy installed in 1965. The original is kept at the Maison du Roi/Broodhuis on the Grand Place. There are many stories about the real pissing boy . The most often-told story is that of a wealthy merchant who, during a visit to the city with his family, had his beloved young son go missing. The merchant hastily formed a search party that scoured all corners of the city until the boy was found happily urinating in a small garden. The merchant, as a gift of gratitude to the locals who helped out during the search, had the fountain built.

12.  The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy, began to tilt during construction. It was caused by an inadequate foundation on ground being too soft on one side to properly support the structure's weight. The tilt increased in the decades before the structure was completed, and gradually increased until the structure was stabilized and the tilt was partially corrected by efforts in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. The tower is located in the Piazza Dei Miracoli (Italian for field of miracles), is only 55.86 meters tall, weighs14,500 tons, has 294 steps and  took over 800 years to completely finish. This national symbol of Italy was almost torn down by American soldiers under the orders to destroy all buildings that may act as a potential nest for enemy snipers.

13. A Farewell to Arms is a novel written by Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961). It is set during the Italian Champagne of World War I. The book was published in 1929, and is a first-person narrative by American Frederic Henry and his romance with a British nurse while serving as a Lieutenant in the Italian Army ambulance corps.

14. The medulla oblongata is the lower half of the brainstem. In discussions of neurology and similar contexts where no ambiguity will result, it is often referred to as simply the medulla. The medulla contains the cardiac, respiratory, vomiting, and vasomotor centers and deals with autonomic, involuntary functions, such as breathing, heart rate and blood pressure.

15. Vasco da Gama (c.1460 or 1461-1524) was a Portuguese explorer and the commander of the first ships to sail from Europe around the Cape of Good Hope and the southern tip of Africa and ultimately directly from Europe to India. After decades of sailors trying to reach India with thousands of lives and dozens of vessels lost in shipwrecks and attacks, da Gama landed in the Indian city of Calicut (Calcutta) on the May 20, 1498. Reaching India by water opened non-land and unopposed trade routes for spices and other products. It also paved the way for European colonization of Asia.

16. Curling is a sport in which players slide stones across a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four rings. Two teams of four players each take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones across the ice (curling sheet) towards a circular target marked on the ice (house). Each team has eight stones. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game. Points are scored for the stones resting closest to the centre of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones. A game may consist of ten or eight ends.

17. Philip Glass (born: 1937) is an American composer. He is often said to be one of the most influential composers of the late 20th century. His music is also often described as minimalist. But, he has lately distanced himself from the minimalist label, describing himself instead as a composer of  "music with repetitive structures."  He describes himself as a "Classicist". Glass is a prolific composer. He has written operas, musical theatre works, ten symphonies, eleven concertos, solo works, chamber music, and film scores. Three of his film scores have been nominated for Academy Awards In addition, he founded the Philip Glass Ensemble with which he performs on keyboards.

18. The International Day of Peace, sometimes unofficially known as World Peace Day, is observed annually on September 21. It is dedicated to peace and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as calling for or creating a temporary ceasefire in order to provide humanitarian aid to war victims. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and peoples. To inaugurate the day, the Peace Bell is rung at the U.N. headquarters in New York City. The bell was cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa. Individuals can also wear White Peace Doves to commemorate the International Day of Peace, which are badges in the shape of a dove produced by a non-profit organization in Canada.

19. Taxonomy (Ancient Greek: taxis meaning arrangement and nomia meaning method) is the science of defining groups of biological organisms on the basis of shared characteristics and giving names to those groups. Each group is given a rank and groups of a given rank can be aggregated to form a super group of higher rank and thus create a hierarchical classification. The groups created through this process are referred to as taxa (singular: taxon).

20. Ozymandias is a sonnet  by Percy Bysshe Shelly (1792-1822) . It was first published in 1818 is probably Shelley's most famous short poem. The central theme of Ozymandias is the inevitable decline of all leaders and of the empires they build however mighty they may have been in their own time. Shelly's poem was written as the result of poetry competition with his friend, Horace Smith.
        -Percy Bysshe Shelly

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the dessert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away