TOMATOES were once thought to be poisonous. When tomatoes were first introduced in the 15th century, Europeans noticed the increased mortality in those who frequently ate tomatoes, and concluded the plant was poisonous. In actuality, the acidity of the tomato released the lead in the pewter tableware of the period. It was the lead that killed ‘em.
WHICH came first – orange, the fruit or orange, the color? The word orange originally applied to the orange tree from Southeast Asia, and derived from the Sanskrit word naranga (See Spanish - naranja) and by the 13th century was used to describe both the tree and its fruit. Not until the 15th century was the word applied to a color. And by the way, the original oranges weren’t orange at all. They were lime green.
ORANGE has no rhyme in the English language. Neither do the following nine words - month, silver, bulb, wolf, walrus, rhythm, husband, woman, and purple.
JOHN FRUM is the name given by New Guinea natives as the quasi-deity thought to be responsible for the delivery of Western material goods to the Melanesian Islands. During and after World War II, these “cargo cultists” built crude, life-size replicas of airplanes out of straw and placed them beside jungle clearings – runways – in hopes of attracting real air freight aircraft full of modern amenities.
Sorta like setting out duck decoys. From time to time, people calling themselves John Frum have tried to assume leadership roles throughout the island archipelago, and have even run for political office.
ONLY the human nose and ears continue to grow throughout a lifetime. That’s why we geezers look so strange.
NO ONE knows the origin of the word okay, or its abbreviation ok, even though the word is believed to be the most frequently spoken word on the planet. Claims of its Choctaw or even African origin have never been proven to anyone’s satisfaction, even though the word’s widespread usage predates the American Civil War, when Native American and slave words often entered the language.
DESPITE hand-wringing alarmists’ statements to the contrary, the United States is not even close to running out of space for garbage landfills. Although seven Eastern states are finding it difficult to identify inexpensive sites, there is no shortage of suitable land if the price is right. One study estimated the entire country’s landfill requirements for the next millennia could be satisfied with one facility 35 miles square and 200 feet deep.
THE AMOUNT of solar energy falling on Earth in one day is equal to burning 550 billion tons of coal, more than could be mined in 1,000 years using conventional methods.
PLAYERS with household incomes under $10,000 bet nearly three times as much on lotteries as those with incomes over $50,000. It doesn’t matter how you pick your numbers. Your odds of winning are always the same. The selection of the winning numbers is purely by chance. Each number will always have the same chance of being selected, meaning there is no system for picking lottery numbers. Correct that! There ARE systems – just none that work.
THE WORLD’S LARGEST desert is not in Africa or Asia. It’s in Antarctica. But you knew that. You just didn’t know you knew it.
YES, there was a real Johnny Appleseed.
His name was John Chapman, who personally started hundreds of apple nurseries throughout the northeastern United States in the early 1800s, and who encouraged the fruit’s cultivation by others.
Chapman got his apple seeds from cider mills, and hence his trees produced mostly bitter apples suitable for the production of hard cider. In those days, alcohol was big business.
YOU COULD HAVE GUESSED Samsung created a robot shaped like a human butt – and even put jeans on it – to test the ability of their Galaxy phones to withstand the pressure of being sat on. Well, that’s a relief for millions of young women.
INTERESTING HOLIDAYS THIS WEEK: Sept. 12 - Chocolate Milkshake Day; 13th - Blame Someone Else Day. Enjoy.
Bill Bouldin, a Virginian by birth and a Son of Texas by nature, is a former Air Force pilot and veteran journalist who has spent many tale-weaving years on the Texas-Mexico border.