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Friday, March 8, 2019

Friday links

Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend, at 2:00 AM Sunday March 10: some DST history (including Ben Franklin's proposal), stories and video. 

A Skeleton City: Washington DC in the 1820s.

The Unusual Occupation of the Leech Collectors or Leech Gatherers.

March 10th is Chuck Norris' 79th (!!!) birthday: his 5 most badass movies and a bunch of Norris "facts" plus a supercut of Norris's best kicks. Related: UK scientists recreated Neanderthal man, who looks just like Chuck Norris.

The British Library Digitizes Its Collection of Obscene Books (1658-1940).

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include the anniversary of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech, fast food French fry rankings, a new posthumous Dr. Seuss book, and a study on shared personalities of dogs and their humans.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

March 10th is Chuck Norris' birthday: 5 most badass movies and a bunch of Norris "facts"

I'm not going to try to recount Chuck Norris' entire biography here - go to Wikipedia for that. A couple of excerpts:

Carlos Ray "Chuck" Norris (born March 10, 1940) is an American martial artist and actor. After serving in the United States Air Force, he began his rise to fame as a martial artist, and has since founded his own school, Chun Kuk Do, which is based primarily on Tang Soo Do and includes elements from every combat style he knows. Like many other martial arts, Chun Kuk Do includes a code of honor and rules to live by. These rules are from Chuck Norris's personal code. They are:
  1. I will develop myself to the maximum of my potential in all ways.
  2. I will forget the mistakes of the past and press on to greater achievements.
  3. I will continually work at developing love, happiness and loyalty in my family.
  4. I will look for the good in all people and make them feel worthwhile.
  5. If I have nothing good to say about a person, I will say nothing.
  6. I will always be as enthusiastic about the success of others as I am about my own.
  7. I will maintain an attitude of open-mindedness.
  8. I will maintain respect for those in authority and demonstrate this respect at all times.
  9. I will always remain loyal to my God, my country, family and my friends.
  10. I will remain highly goal-oriented throughout my life because that positive attitude helps my family, my country and myself
Here's his website: So, the movies:

Way of the Dragon (1972)

The Octagon (1980)

Silent Rage (1982)

Lone Wolf McQuade (1983)

Missing in Action (1984)

Have a different favorite?  Link to it in the comments.

Some Chuck Norris-isms:

Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried. Ever.

Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

Chuck Norris doesn’t call the wrong number, you answer the wrong phone.

Chuck Norris lost his virginity before his dad did.

When Chuck Norris crosses the street the cars have to look both ways.

Death once had a near-Chuck Norris experience.

Once a cobra bit Chuck Norris’ leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.

Chuck Norris sleeps with a pillow under his gun.

Chuck Norris ordered a Big Mac at Burger King, and got one.

Chuck Norris can strangle you with a cordless phone.

Chuck Norris can kill two stones with one bird.

Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

Crop circles are Chuck Norris' way of telling the world that sometimes corn needs to lie the f*** down.

The Great Wall of China was originally created to keep Chuck Norris out. It failed miserably.

The quickest way to a man's heart is with Chuck Norris' fist.

Neanderthal Chuck Norris
Previous post: UK scientists recreated Neanderthal man, who looks just like Chuck Norris.

More Norris-isms here and here.

More information at his website,, Wikipedia and IMDB

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Tuesday links

March 5th is the anniversary of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech.

The official fast food French fry power rankings.

The Accidental Invention of Bubble Wrap.

Posthumous Dr. Seuss Book from an unfinished manuscript to be published later this year: Dr. Seuss's Horse Museum.

California is named after Queen Calafia, a fictional warrior queen who ruled over a kingdom of black women.

Do anxious owners make for anxious dogs? A new study explores whether pets and owners share personalities.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include a history of cheese, the physics of why sparks fly when you microwave grapes, an interactive map of the geography of the Odyssey, and that time Columbus tricked Jamaicans out of supplies using knowledge of an upcoming lunar eclipse. 

Monday, March 4, 2019

March 5 is the anniversary of Winston Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. 

Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow. 

~ Winston S. Churchill (wiki) (1874-1965) (speech, Fulton Missouri, 5 March 1946) 

Communism has never come to power in a country that was not disrupted by war or corruption, or both. 

~ John F. Kennedy (wiki) (1917-1963) (speech to NATO, 3 July 1963)

Larger version and related maps here.
An uncharacteristically optimistic quote from Dr. Johnson:

No government power can be abused long. Mankind will not bear it ... There is a remedy in human nature against tyranny, that will keep us safe under any form of government. 

~ Dr. Samuel Johnson (wiki) (1709-1884) (quoted in Boswell's Life of Johnson, 31 March, 1772) 

March 5th is the anniversary of Winston Churchill's epoch-making "iron curtain" speech in 1946, at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri - the most famous acknowledgement of the existence of a "Cold War" (wiki) between Russia and the West, which put an end to the alliance that defeated the Nazis in World War II. The Cold War, which would often became quite hot in places like Korea and Vietnam - and damn near led to a nuclear exchange during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 - continued for 45 years until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. 

Sadly, however, the freedoms regained by the nations of eastern Europe seem now to be threatened by growing authoritarianism, and under Vladimir Putin, a new Cold War may already upon us.

Churchill's "iron curtain" phrase had many antecedents, described fully in a relevant Wikipedia article.

Churchill himself used the phrase a year before in a telegram to U.S. President Harry S. Truman, but perhaps most startling was its earliest appearance in the present context in an article by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels (wiki) (1897-1945) in the Nazi newspaper Das Reich on 23 February 1945: 
"Should the German people lay down their arms, the Soviets ... would occupy all eastern and southeastern Europe, together with the greater part of the Reich. Over all this territory, which with the Soviet Union included, would be of enormous extent, an iron curtain [ein eiserner Vorhang] would at once descend."

Related posts:

Before there was Laffer: Churchill on the fiscal cliff..

Parts of the text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.