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Fast facts


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Illustration by Holly Randall
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Tuesday, August 24, 2004
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Things you always never wanted to know

  • In 1970, the editor of the British humor magazine Punch wrote a "cheque" to writer A.P. Herbert on the side of a cow. The bank was legally obliged to honor the check - in Britain, a check written on any object must be accepted by a bank, as long as it is made out correctly.

  • The ancient Egyptians worshiped cats as gods and kept them in great numbers. In 1888, about 300,000 mummified cats were found in a necropolis in Egypt. One consignment of 19 tons was pulverized and sent to England for farmers to use as fertilizer.

  • In Kublai Khan's China, anyone whose crops were struck by lightning was excused taxes for three years. This was not selfless charity. The Chinese believed that lightning was a sign of God's disapproval. If the Khan had accepted money from someone who had incurred God's wrath, he would have brought ill fortune upon himself.

  • The word "tragedy" comes from the Greek words for goat ("tragos") and song ("ode"), so it literally means "goat-song." This name for the drama either refers to an early custom of sacrificing a goat onstage at the climax of the performance, or to the goat skins worn by the satyrs who appeared in the Dionysian rites that were the forerunners of Greek theatrical drama.

  • Socrates left no writings of his own. All that is known of the Greek philosopher and gadfly of Athens is through the words of others, principally Plato's.


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