Saturday, September 27, 2008

Trivial Pursuit #2

Once again, I have decided to subject you to the fruits of my hobby of collecting bits of totally useless information. I do this because I find such information endless fascinating, and because the creative spirit occasionally abandons me. Unrepentant about my occasional lapses, it is my hope that you will enjoy them as much as I do.
  • Two classic expressions are in fact related to each other. The first "Saved By The Bell" comes from a device used to keep from burying people alive. During the 17th century, people were sometimes buried with a bell tied to their hands. If for some reason the newly interned should have been buried mistakenly, they could ring the bell, and be released from their premature grave. The person who monitored this bell (usually at night, since the burial had been performed during the previous day) worked "The Graveyard Shift". As time passed and embalming became a more common practice, the "Saved By The Bell" expression passed into boxing lexicon. It was transformed in the 19th century, where it was used to describe being saved from a knockout by the sound of the bell signaling the end of the round (at the time boxing matches often went 50 or more rounds). The "Graveyard Shift" likewise changed in meaning, becoming the act of working the shift corresponding to those earlier graveyard labors.
  • The Chimney was developed during the 13th Century in Europe to help heat houses during a climactic change that was called a mini “Ice Age”
  • In old Siam (Thailand), white elephants were so rare that they were automatically considered the property of the emperor when born. To punish people for offense, that emperor would sometimes give them a white elephant, because while they had to care for it, they could neither ride nor work it. Hence the expression, "as useless as a white elephant".
  • In the Middle Ages, much like today, no one really much trusted anyone else. With paranoia running rampant, people would often hold their hand out palm up (and empty) to show that they were not going to attack you with a sword when they got to you. This gesture, used to put everyone at ease, evolved into the modern custom of the handshake.
  • In the days when the foxhunt was considered good sport, dogs were trained to hunt for that fox by scent. Initially the dogs were trained to follow a scent by dragging a dead fish commonly found in the local waters along the ground. Later as their training progressed, the same kind of fish would be used, dragging it across the scent trail of an actual fox to see if the dogs would now follow the actual prey or the distraction from their earlier training. Hence the expression, “following a red herring"
  • Global warming (if it actually exists) is more likely to produce another Ice Age rather than the flooding of the world’s coasts currently being touted. The most likely scenario is that the melting of the polar cap in the north would reach a tipping point, changing the percentage of fresh water in the North Atlantic. This change, if drastic enough, could potentially stop the Atlantic conveyor belt which is part of the planet’s heat exchange system. This system brings heat to the northern hemisphere from the equator, and is more commonly known as the Gulf Stream. It's loss would cause the entire northern hemisphere to freeze under rampant glaciation.


Hooda Thunkit said...


"Global Warming" is a misnomer.

American Warming, as we can see this year has one flavor, repeating every 4 years (the presidential election years), and a second, milder flavor repeating in the non-presidential election years.

This phenomenon begins to kick in just about Labor day and quickly diminishes in November, after the election campaigning subsides, about the time hat the candidates shut their pie holes.

Although the event is a small one in worldly terms it nonetheless causes many people much consternation ;-)

Tim Higgins said...


I had wondered about this and simply had not connected the dots. I would assume that the Republicans, being evil haters of the environment, would revel in such destruction. The Democrats, I am sure, have purchased carbon credits this year from Al Gore as offsets to the damage caused.

kck_kat said...

Here's a little more trivia for you, Obi Wan.... People used to think "dead ringer" meant the same thing-a string tied to the finger of a dead person in case of premature burial. In fact, it really pertains to horses that were used to fake out the bookies in the 19th century. The horses were called "ringers" They would substitue one horse for another and the horse would have to looke similar to pull off the scam. The dead part comes from "precise or identical-like dead heat." See, you're not the only one who can store up useless knowledge. Actually, I think your nephew is majoring in it!

Tim Higgins said...

I find it shocking to find out that useless behavior and / or information turns out to be a genetic disorder in our family. The shock of course, is that we haven't previously discovered or admitted to this fact.