Dramatic Irony

Before the advent of wi-fi, the spectrum of radio frequencies used by wi-fi were referred to by some as “the garbage bands." Because those frequencies were being largely useless.

The last known win by a human against the best (at the time) computer, under normal tournament conditions, was in 2005. The human was Ruslan Ponomariov, a Ukrainian chess grandmaster.

Mapping Part of the Wall of China Gives Insights into Its Purpose

The Northern Line of the Great Wall of China has recently been mapped using drones and high-resolution satellite images. The 460-mile-long Northern Line mostly winds through Mongolia, and was constructed of pounded earth between the 1000s and 1200s CE. The Northern Line was previously thought to have been constructed to prevent incursions by nomadic tribes such as those eventually united under Genghis Khan. But the team found that much of this section of the more than 13,000-mile-long Great Wall is low in height and placed near paths. In other words, it does not match what you would expect for a wall intended to prevent enemy invasion. It looks more like a wall intended to monitor the movement of livestock and people -- and potentially tax it.

Laughing too hard can be dangerous. If someone is unlucky, or has a prior medical condition, laughter can lead to a brain aneurysm, asthma attack, gelastic seizures, or asphyxiation. Famous people who have died from laughter include Chrysippus (Greek Stoic philosopher in the 200s BCE), King Martin of Aragon in 1410, and Thomas Urquhart (Scottish aristocrat, polymath, and first translator of François Rabelais's writings into English) in 1660.

The use of paper as toilet paper was common in China at least by the late 500s CE. In 589 CE the scholar-official Yan Zhitui (531–591 CE) wrote about the use of toilet paper: "Paper on which there are quotations or commentaries from the Five Classics or the names of sages, I dare not use for toilet purposes." Since Yan does not feel the need to explain “toilet purposes” he assumes the reader knows and uses toilet paper, too.

Gender Discrimination's First American Legal Precedent

Until 1976, the state of Oklahoma had a lower drinking age for women than for men. It was 21 for men, 18 for women. A court in Oklahoma upheld the law, because drunk-driving arrests and traffic injuries demonstrated that the gender-based discrimination was substantially related to the achievement of traffic safety on Oklahoma roads. But the case was appealed to the Supreme Court because it was claimed that the law violated the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection for all citizens. The Supreme Court found that the law discriminated against men in Oklahoma between the ages of 18 and 20.

The Odd Story of How Singapore Gained Independence

Singapore joined Malaysia in 1962, after a nation-wide referendum where 70% of the population voted to merge. It officially joined with the Federation of Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to become its 14th state. And since Singapore was a self-governing part of the British Empire at the time, the merger also ended 144 years of British rule.

Unfortunately was not a happy marriage. There was constant clashing between the Malayan and Singaporean political leadership over key issues like political approach, economic policy, and racial policy. Two years into the merger, Malaysia’s parliament voted unanimously to expel Singapore from Malaysia. Singapore was initially unwilling to leave but its government finally agreed to avoid further bloodshed. Which makes Singapore the only modern state to have gained its independence against its wishes.

When Eunuchs Could Marry

According to Chinese official historical records, there had been a historical record of eunuch marriage as early as the Eastern Han Dynasty. But they were not common until the Ming Dynasty. Starting in 1402, the Yongle Emperor quietly began allowing eunuchs to marry, as thanks for their significant contributions in Jingnan Rebellion which nearly knocked Yongle off his throne. From then on the marriage of eunuchs had legitimacy because it had the tacit approval of the emperor. The Yongle Emperor even awarded wedding to eunuchs who made significant contributions. These were, for obvious reasons, marriages for intimacy and companionship not children. Eunuch marriages remained common in the imperial court through the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1912.

Visa Found Showing Japanese Consul Helped Jewish Refugees

A visa has recently come to light that was issued by Saburo Nei, who was acting Japanese consul-general in the Soviet Union. The visa was issued to Simon Korentajer, a Jewish refugee who fled to Vladivostock ahead of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. Korentajer’s granddaughter, Kim Hydorn, has kept the document. It was issued by Nei in Vladivostock in 1941. The visa allowed Korentajer, his wife, and their daughter to escape to Japan, violating the policy held by that country’s Foreign Ministry. The Korentajer family spent about six years in Shanghai (which at the time was controlled by Japan) before they emigrated to San Francisco in 1947. This is the first visa issued by Nei to Jewish refugees to be recovered, although some records of them have been found. The number “21” was written on the document, indicating that Nei may have issued as many as 20 or more such visas.

The English word “bank” comes from the Italian word “banco.” In late medieval Italy banks were family businesses consisting of a single large room with a counter, or “banco,” in the middle to separate customers from clerks and bookkeepers.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    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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