Apartheid Was Ridiculous -- And Terrible

During Apartheid in South Africa, a bus driver was fired for refusing to pick up a Japanese man  -- who was legally considered a "white" person at the time. The bus driver was reinstated after he stated he could not tell the difference between a Japanese person  -- legally "white" -- and a Chinese person -- legally "not white."

Why Did New Guinea Warriors Prefer Daggers Made With Human Bone?

The indigenous people of Papua New Guinea did not develop metalworking before modern contact. Instead, they fought with sharpened bone daggers. Here there was a choice: fight with daggers crafted from human thighbones or daggers crafted from cassowary thighbones -- giant, flightless, dinosaur-like birds. The preferred weapon in Papua New Guinea was human bone daggers.     And a new study suggests why: the dagger fashioned from human bone is stronger than the giant bird's thighbone, largely because of the way the warriors of New Guinea carved the weapons. The human bone daggers retained more of the natural curves of the bone, making them stronger than the flatter, less curved cassowary bone daggers. Given that cassowary daggers are easier to replace than human-bone daggers, it makes sense that the human daggers were carved with greater care to make them stronger.

The world’s first telegraph line was set up between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD. It worked by transmitting electrical signals over a wire laid between the stations. The first message was sent by inventor Samuel F.B. Morse on May 24, 1844, from DC to Baltimore. It said: "What hath God wrought?" in -- what else -- morse code. Since the line could only transmit electrical signals, manipulating that signal was the only way to communicate.

Morse code became a standard method of communication for the next hundred years. It was still in use by all sides during World War II!

Naming Nations

A surprisingly large number of countries have changed their names! A few more than once. (Note, this map does not include name changes due to independence or mergers -- so, South Sudan does not appear.)

Eskimo Girl Wearing Clothes of All Fur

Taken in 1915, this photograph and its title comes from an American cultural anthropologist's collection of photographs and negatives. Eskimos today are known by their own word for themselves, Inuit, which means 'people.' The Inuit are the main indigenous people of the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Siberia.

The Quick History Of A South Korean Staple

  Tteok-bokki is a common South Korean food, easily bought at a street vendor. The first record on tteok-bokki appears in Siuijeonseo, a late-1800s Korean cookbook, where the dish was listed using the archaic spelling steokbokgi. In this early version, tteok-bokki was made with a savory sauce based on soy sauce. Today, that version is often called "royal court" tteok-bokki. Today the more popular version is spicy, made with gochujang (chili paste). This version first appeared as a street food in Seoul in the 1950s.

An Italian Bank Is Older Than Italy

Founded in Italy in 1472 and originally a pawnshop, Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena is the world's oldest surviving bank. It existed when Leonardo da Vinci was still alive!

MisPlaced Poet Found

English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge's body has been rediscovered. Didn't know he was missing? Neither did I! Apparently Coleridge died in 1834, and he was buried in the chapel at the nearby Highgate School. But in 1961, his and his family's coffins were moved from Highgate School chapel’s crumbling vault to St. Michael Church. They were stored in an area that had been the wine cellar of a mansion that previously stood on the site. But at some point, the door to the cellar was bricked up. Over time, the location of the cellar was forgotten, and no one remembered where Coleridge and his family were.

A recent investigation of the cellar, however, found the entrance to the wine vault, and the coffins were spotted through a ventilation gap in the bricks.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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