"Belief in progress doesn’t mean belief in progress that has already occurred. That would not require belief."

Franz Kafka

When Women Weren‘t Persons

In 1928, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that women were not “persons” according to the British North America Act and therefore were ineligible for appointment to the Senate. To overturn this, the Canadian woman in question appealed to the Privy Council of England. At the time it was Canada's highest appeals court. In 1929, the Privy Council ruled that women are, indeed, "persons," opening up the Canadian legislature for women as well as preventing narrow readings of laws that read "person" instead of "citizen" or "human."

Literal Meanings of Countries' Names

Click through the image gallery to see names' meanings around the world. Some of these names are older than others. For instance, Mexico's name comes from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. Also, some of these take the English name's meaning, others the local language's meaning. But still -- fun maps!

The Olympic Games hosted by Barcelona in 1992 were the first Olympics in three decades not to have a single country boycott participation. It was also notable for:

  • the first integrated team, with non-white athletes, from South Africa
  • the USA “Dream Team,” featuring multiple MBA stars, who took the gold medal
  • being the last occasion that the Summer and Winter Olympics were held in the same year. In 1994, the International Olympic Committee decided to have them on alternating even-numbered years
  • the Basque nationalist group ETA committed multiple terrorist attacks in Barcelona and the Catalonian region in the lead-up to the games, but none during the Olympics themselves

The Unstoppable Race

Yorkshir has a 4-mile horse race called the Kiplingcotes Derby which has been held every year since 1519. That makes it the oldest annual horse race in England. According to the ancient rules, if the race ever fails to take place, it must never be run again, so the Derby's organizers have always been careful to have at least an attempt at a race every year. In 1947 (harsh winter), 2001 (foot-and-mouth disease crisis), and 2018 (heavy rain), the race was functionally canceled but a single horse was led around the course to keep the tradition alive.

Extremely Well-Preserved Ship From 400 Years Ago Found in Baltic

This particular find is an excellently-preserved example of a type of Dutch ship called a "fluit." These ships, whose earliest versions emerged in the 1500s, were unusual in being purely mercantile vessels. Other ships at the time were designed to switch between serving as cargo ships and war vessels. But the three-masted fluit had a cost-effective design, maximizing cargo capacity and minimizing the number of sailors needed to run the ship. The fluit could therefore carry double the cargo of other ships on similar routes. Though popular between 1500s and 1700s, few fluits survive today, meaning this well-preserved wreck could help teach us more about the ship that helped the Dutch build their international mercantile power.

Interesting Facts About The Zodiac

Whether you read your horoscope faithfully, or you do not even remember your own zodiac sign, here's a fun list to learn more about this ancient system of divination.

  • Astrology developed before the Copernican Revolution. As a result, the zodiac is based on the incorrect assumption that the sun moves around the Earth, passing through the different star constellations.
  • The modern zodiac's 12 signs were finalized in ancient Greece, and is directly based on Ptolemy's writings in Egypt during the 100s CE
  • Saint Augustine of Hippo published a criticism of astrology in opposition to early Christians who were trying to cast horoscopes for Christ
  • Ancient Babylonians had their own zodiac of 12 signs, including a scale and a pair of twins
  • In India, astrological predictions are based on the 12 zodiac signs, which are the same as western signs, and the five elements fire, earth, water, air, and ether, each of which correspond to a planet
  • The Chinese zodiac runs on a sixty-year cycle of 12 signs (rat, rooster, dragon, etc) combined with the five phases (wood, fire, metal, water, earth)

Between 1970 and 2016, Earth has lost 68% all birds, fish, and animals. That is over two-thirds of Earth’s wildlife, gone. We live in a historic time.

The Alternative Foundings of Rome

Ancient Rome's foundation myth -- twins suckled by a she-wolf -- is actually just the winner of a number of competing origin myths. One had Romulus and Remus happily founding the city together. Multiple connected Rome to the acknowledged great civilization, Greece. The Trojan hero Aeneas escaped Troy, wandered the Mediterranean, then established a city in central Italy. There are hints that one of Hercules' labors was completed in the area, perhaps he was once seen as the city's founder. Or Romulus was the son of Odysseus and the sorceress Circe. Then there is the myth that Romulus, just the one boy, was the son of a slave-girl, Ocrisia, who became pregnant thanks to a phallus that grew from the ashes in her hearth. But none of these myths were as potent as the now-immortal image of the two baby boys, suckled by a wild wolf.

The World Cup Champions Curse

The FIFA World Cup, the highest honor of its sport, is cursed. But don't feel too bad. The curse only happens once a team has already won the cup. Since 1998, all but one defending champion has returned for the next tournament and been knocked out in the first round. In 1994 the US won the tournament. But at the next cup in 1998, the US was out in the first round and France won the cup. Then in 2002, France was out in the first round and Brazil won the cup. Seeing a pattern? Brazil managed to stay in till the quarterfinals in 2006, but Italy won the tournament. In 2010, Italy was out in the first round and Spain won the cup. In 2014, Spain was out in the first round and Germany won the cup. In 2018, Germany was out in the first round and France won again. France better be worried for 2022.

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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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