A brief history of Uncle Sam……

There was a real-life Uncle Sam. This symbol of the United States government and of the national character, in striped trousers and top hat, was a meat packer and politician from upstate New York who came to be known as Uncle Sam as the result of a coincidence and a …

A very short history of the napkin…..

The humble table napkin has a surprisingly long and varied history. The Spartans used lumps of dough called apomagdalie, cut, rolled, and kneaded at table, to wipe their hands. The ancient Romans used lengths of cloth called mappa at the edges of eating couches to protect the furnishings. In the …

February 22nd 1932…….

Chicago crime boss Al Capone made his fortune bootlegging liquor during Prohibition. But as Prohibition died out in the early 1930s, the man known to the world as Public Enemy No. 1 was staring unemployment in the face. Capone needed a legitimate business if he was to keep turning profits, …

Stutenbeißen………

The Finnish have a wonderful word, knapsu, for anything that’s not male behaviour. Other cultures are quick to notice the gender-specific: Stutenbeißen (German) the special behaviour of women in a rivalry situation (literally, mare biting) dzinana (Tsonga, South Africa) to pummel one another with the side of the fists, away …

February 22nd 10,000 BC

According to Hanna-Barbera, Pebbles Flintstone was born at the Bedrock Rockapedic Hospital at 8 p.m. on February 22, 10,000 B.C., weighing in at 6 pounds, 12 ounces. She premiered on TV on her 11,963rd birthday—in the February 22, 1963, Flintstones episode “The Blessed Event.” As an infant, Pebbles quickly became …

A very short history of Pregnancy Tests….

Tests for determining whether a woman is pregnant go back to at least 1350 B.C. An Egyptian papyrus from that period describes a pregnancy test in which a woman would urinate on wheat and barley seeds. If the barley grew, she was pregnant with a boy; if the wheat grew, …

A very short history of the Stethescope……

When most people picture a physician they probably visualize a man or woman in a white lab coat, a stethoscope draped around his or her neck. Still the most useful instrument for diagnosing cardiovascular disease, the stethoscope can also supply information about the intestines, veins, and arteries. Until the early …

A short history of Geeks and Nerds……

Computer fanatics seem to attract pejorative words to describe them. (Now why should that be?). More often than not, they are words previously known in other contexts, but given new strength and life in the computer age. Geek and nerd both come into this category. The online New Hacker’s Dictionary …

Let’s talk about Spice…..

What you need to remember is that before spices appeared in Europe, the medieval diet was decidedly monotonous. People ate a limited range of local produce and then, through the long winter months, the supplies they had managed to dry or preserve in brine. Small wonder, then, that when the …

February 20th 1437…..

Tennis has the unusual distinction of contributing to the deaths of not one but two European monarchs. The first was King Louis X of France (he was actually history’s first recorded tennis player): In 1316, he caught a chill after an exhausting game, developed pneumonia, and died. The second was …