Q. Why do ships and aircraft use ‘mayday’ as their call for help?
A. This comes from the French word m’aidez - meaning ‘help me’ - and is pronounced approximately, ‘mayday.
Q. Why is shifting responsibility to someone else called ‘passing the buck’?
A. In card games, it was once customary to pass an item, called a buck, from player to player to indicate whose turn it was to deal. If a player did not wish to assume the responsibility of dealing, he would ‘pass the buck’ to the next player.
Q. Why are many coin banks shaped like pigs?
A. Long ago, dishes and cookware in Europe were made of a dense orange clay called ‘pygg’. When people saved coins in jars made of this clay, the jars became known as ‘pygg banks.’ When an English potter misunderstood the word, he made a container that resembled a pig. And it caught on.
Q. Did you ever wonder why dimes, quarters and half dollars have notches (milling), while pennies and nickels do not?
A. The US Mint began putting notches on the edges of coins containing gold and silver to discourage holders from shaving off small quantities of the precious metals. Dimes, quarters and half dollars are notched because they used to contain silver. Pennies and nickels aren’t notched because the metals they contain are not valuable enough to shave.
Sub fun fact: A quarter has 119 grooves on its edge, a dime has one less groove.
Kim Jong Il’s birth
Kim Jong-il was born in Siberia in 1941 while his parents were during the Japanese occupation of Korea, according to Soviet documents.
But according to official North Korean literature, he was born in a log cabin at his father’s secret base on North Korea’s sacred Mt Paektu in 1942.
The same reports claim his birth were heralded by a swallow and caused winter to change to spring, a star to illuminate the sky and rainbows to spontaneously appear.
He was the best golfer the world has ever seen
In 1994, Pyongyang media reported that Kim Jong-il shot an amazing 11 holes-in-one to achieve an unprecedented 38-under-par game on a regulation 18-hole golf course - on his first try at golf.
Reports say each of his 17 bodyguards verified the record-breaking feat.
He lured short people with a wonder drug that promised to make them tall, then kidnapped them
Kim Hyun-sik, a former tutor to Jong-il, said the government handed out pamphlets to thousands of people selling a wonder drug that would make them taller. When they responded to the ad, they were sent away to “uninhabited islands in an attempt to end their ‘substandard’ genes from repeating in a new generation,” Hyun-sik said.
He was the world’s biggest Hennessey drinker
A study by Dr. Jerold Post, a former CIA psychologist, revealed the former dictator loved a Hennessey cognac that retails for $630 a bottle in Korea - $270 less than the average Korean annual income, $900.
"He is the largest customer over the last 10 years, averaging between $650,000 and $720,000 a year."
He was a fashion icon
Pyongyang announced the leader had become a worldwide fashion icon after Rodong Sinmun, a communist party newspaper in North Korea, reported Kim Jong-il’s suits had become a global fashion phenomenon.
An “unidentified French fashion expert” agreed: “Kim Jong-il mode, which is now spreading expeditiously worldwide, is something unprecedented in the world’s history.”
He invented the hamburger
Since any American influences have long since been banned in his tiny communist country, Kim Jong Il had no choice but to create some new non-Western food by himself. North Korean newspaper Minju Joson reported that Kim Jong Il invented a new sandwich called “double bread with meat” in an attempt to provide “quality” food to university students. He then built a plant capable of mass hamburger production to feed his students and teachers, despite the fact that the majority of his citizens battle famine on a daily basis.
Q. Why do men’s clothes have buttons on the right while women’s clothes have buttons on the left?
A. When buttons were invented, they were very expensive and worn primarily by the rich. Since most people are right-handed, it is easier to push buttons on the right through holes on the left. Because wealthy women were dressed by maids, dressmakers put the buttons on the maid’s right! And that’s where women’s buttons have remained since.
Q. Why are zero scores in tennis called ‘love’?
A. In France , where tennis became popular, round zero on the scoreboard looked like an egg and was called ‘l’oeuf,’ which is French for ‘egg.’ When tennis was introduced in the US , Americans (mis)pronounced it ‘love.
Q. Why are people in the public eye said to be ‘in the limelight’?
A. Invented in 1825,limelight was used in lighthouses and theatres by burning a cylinder of lime which produced a brilliant light. In the theatre, a performer ‘in the limelight’ was the center of attention.
Q. Why is someone who is feeling great ‘on cloud nine’?
A. Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.
When George Lucas was mixing the American Graffiti soundtrack, he numbered the reels of film starting with an R and numbered the dialog starting with a D. Sound designer Walter Murch asked George for Reel 2, Dialog 2 by saying “R2D2”. George liked the way that sounded so much he integrated that into another project he was working on.