Nothing Is Certain But Death And Taxes

According to one historian, plane geometry was not invented by Euclid but by ancient tax collectors who wanted to determine land size to calculate how much taxes farmers owed on their fields' produce.

Bali's Unique Mourning Ritual

Bali is the only place that has been observed to consistently have funerals with no tears. In Bali, funerals are held two years after the person has died.

More Evidence of Human-Neanderthal Intermarriage Found

A new study of teeth recovered in the early 1900s from La Cotte de St. Brelade, a cave on the English Channel island of Jersey, suggests that the teeth came from two individuals whose ancestry was made up of a mix of Neanderthals and homo sapiens. The teeth date to 48,000 years ago. At the time, lower sea levels meant that the island was connected to today's mainland France. The teeth's owners could have walked there. “The roots look very Neanderthal, whereas the neck and crowns of the teeth look much more like those of modern humans,” said research team member Chris Stringer of London’s Natural History Museum.

Nose piercing became a tradition for young women in India in the 1500s. It was done to signal the lady was marriageable.

Neanderthals and other relatives of Homo sapiens had nose shapes that were similar but not quite the same as those of today's humans. This suggests that the human nose has evolved and changed over time.

South Korea’s Strange Presidential Saga

South Korea’s democracy began in 1980, although it was immediately taken over by unelected military strongman Chun who eventually got himself “elected” president. (He was the only candidate on the ballot.) But to give him credit, Chun followed the 1981 constitution’s seven-year one-term presidential limit. Thus he sort of counts as the first South Korean president. Which makes Chun the first South Korean ex-president to be convicted.

He was the start of a trend. The four living official ex-presidents of South Korea have all been convicted, imprisoned, and even sentenced to execution. (Chun was sentenced to execution for his takeover in 1981 and his participation in a civilian massacre.) All the executions were commuted.

I can hear you ask, what about the dead ex-presidents? There were three other democratic ex-presidents, who are deceased as of 2021. One was sentenced to death and commuted. One committed suicide while under investigation for bribery. And one, Kim Young-sam (1993-1998) brought in strong anti-corruption attitudes and measures, and was not convicted after his retirement.

Jack of All Trades

During the Edo Period in Japan (1600−1868), firefighters primarily worked as steeplejacks -- people who climb tall structures such as apartment buildings or and steeples in order to carry out repairs. This meant that firefighters got paid when they put out fires, but they also got paid when fires damaged tall buildings and repairs were needed. The result? Multiple known cases of firefighters setting fires to create business for themselves. It was enough of a problem that the shogunate to issue warning ordinances and executed some offending firefighters.

The Takeaway Rembrandt

The famous painter Rembrandt's portrait of Jacob de Gheyn from 1632 is nicknamed the Takeaway Rembrandt because it is quite small and easily stolen. It has in fact been stolen 4 times since 1966! That is the most recorded thefts of a single painting.

Since its independence in 1947, Pakistan has had 22 prime ministers. None have served their full term. All have ended their term early because of assassinations, semi-legal military interventions (or other deposings), or forced resignations.

Drinking in Space? Its More Likely Than You Think

In 1972, NASA officially banned alcohol from space (and the international space station) after booze was proposed to accompany a planned holiday dinner. When news that wine was headed to Skylab started circulating in the press, however, it was quickly taken off the menu and alcohol banned in space. It is well-known that alcohol is regularly consumed though. The Russians, in particular, are notorious for smuggling cognac onboard. The Russian space program officially bans alcohol as well but turns a blind eye. For the most part, the cosmonauts drink the cognac in small quantities during social events with other crew members or before going to sleep, as an alternative to the pharmaceutical sedatives used by American astronauts.

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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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