Ever Wonder Why...

The Loony Bin ( loonies@bloodaxe.com)
Sun, 27 Jun 04 05:15:58 +0100

Hiya All...

Here are the answers to some of the great mysteries of the universe -
you'll wonder how you survived without knowing these...

Wishes & Dreams...


******* THE LOONY BIN **** loonies@bloodaxe.com

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*********** ANDROMEDA **** Internet Goddess ***********

  ------- Forwarded foolishness follows -------

Ever Wonder Why...

..sometimes an expensive but non-productive possession is a 'white

The King of Siam supposedly gave white elephants to members of his court
he wished to ruin. At the time, the creatures were sacred and not
allowed to work - yet they still had to be fed and cared for.

..men's clothes have buttons on the right while women's are on the

It's easier for right-handed people - the majority - to push buttons on
the right through holes on the left, and so men's buttons are on the
right. When first used, buttons were expensive and worn primarily by the
wealthy. Women in that class were usually dressed by servants. Since a
maid would face the woman she was dressing, dressmakers put the buttons
on the maid's right - the woman's left - where they've remained.

..'getting the sack' means getting fired?

Mechanics and other workmen used to bring their own tools to the job.
When a workman was let go, he was given his final paycheck - and a sack
for his tools.

..a zero score in tennis is called 'love'?

In France, where tennis first became popular, some people apparently
thought a big zero on the score-board looked like an egg - and therefore
called it the egg, which is 'l'oeuf' in French. When tennis became
popular in England, the British copied the French and also called the
zero 'l'oeuf', but pronounced it 'love'.

..people cross their fingers for good luck?

Early Christians secretly made the sign of the cross this way to ask for
divine assistance without attracting the attention of pagans.

..people clink glasses before a toast?

It was once thought that the devil was omnipresent at festive occasions
but could be repelled by the sound of bells. Revellers, therefore, would
clink their glasses, producing bell-like noises to scare him away.

..a bride always stands on the groom's left?

In days when men often captured their brides from neighbouring villages,
a groom had to keep his sword hand - the right one - free during the
ceremony to fend off a possible attack by the bride's kinsmen or jealous

..in some countries builders put a small tree on the top of a building
when its frame is completed?

In ancient times people would attach plant thought to be inhabited by
good spirits to the tops of their new structures. Builders still observe
this superstition in a custom called 'topping out' a new building.

..when a woman spurns a gentleman, she is said to be 'giving him the
cold shoulder'?

In the early 19th century, when the phrase was first recorded by Sir
Walter Scott, it was customary for a hostess to serve hot meat to
visitors who were welcome and cold meat to those who were not. Since the
cold meat given to the unwanted guest was usually a shoulder of mutton,
the hostess was said to be 'giving him the cold shoulder'.

..something deliberately misleading is called a red herring?

The terms stems from fox hunting: red herrings were used to train dogs
to follow a fox's scent and not be diverted to a false trail.

..most pencils are hexagonal?

Hexagonal pencils are cheaper to make than round ones. Nine hexagonal
pencils can be produced from the same amount of wood needed for eight
round ones. The hexagonal pencil is also less likely to roll off a desk.

..ship portholes are round?

If portholes were designed with angles, the constant up-and-down motion
of the ship would tend to concentrate stress at those points and crack
the vessel's skin. With round portholes, the stress is evenly

..pretzels (salted crackers) are made in a loose-knot pattern?

Invented by medieval monks as rewards for children learning their holy
lessons, pretzels were shaped to represent a pair of arms folded in
prayer across a child's chest.

..croissants are crescent-shaped?

In 1683, the Ottoman Turks' attempt to occupy Vienna was repelled. To
commemorate the victory, Viennese bakers created the croissant, shaped
like the crescent in the Turkish flag.

..it's bad luck to walk under a ladder?

A ladder leaning against a wall forms a triangle, the symbol of the
trinity in Christian theology and the mystic number three. It was once
believed that to walk through the triangle would be to defy the Trinity
and risk divine wrath.

..people play April Fools' Day jokes on others every April 1?

Until the latter part of the 16th century, the European new year began
in late March and marked the beginning of spring. To celebrate the new
year, festivities involving much gift-giving and party-going were held
for several days, culminating on April 1. Then the king of France
authorized a change in the calendar, moving the beginning of the new
year to January 1. Many people who either didn't get the word or simply
refused to honour the change continued to exchange gifts and hold
parties on April 1. Because of this, they were called April fools and
were mocked by others, who sent them frivolous presents and played
pranks on them.

..the sky is blue?

When sunlight - which is a mixture of all the colours of the rainbow -
passes through the earth's atmosphere, gas molecules and dust particles
scatter its colour. Those colours with the shortest wave-lengths are the
most easily scattered. Since the shortest light waves appear blue, it's
blue we see when we look at the sky.

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