2017-09-20 / Columns

Strange But True


• It was 20th-century American philosopher, writer and educator Susanne Katherina Langer who made the following sage observation: “If we would have new knowledge, we must get us a whole world of new questions.”

• In Western cultures, the owl is associated with wisdom, but in some Asian countries, it’s traditionally a symbol of stupidity.

• In the 9th century, a Norseman named Sigurd Eysteinsson earned the name Sigurd the Mighty while helping to lead the Viking conquest of what is now northern Scotland. As part of a continuing effort to expand his Scottish conquest, Sigurd challenged a native ruler, Mael Brigte the Bucktoothed, to a battle. Each leader was supposed to bring 40 men to the battle, but Sigurd broke his own rule and brought 80 warriors. Unsurprisingly, Brigte lost. After beheading his defeated foe, Sigurd displayed Brigte’s head on his saddle as a trophy of war. He got his just desserts in the end, though; as he rode, Sigurd’s leg was scratched by Brigte’s buck teeth. The seemingly insignificant wound festered, and Sigurd the Mighty was killed by the infection.

• You may already know that seahorses mate for life. You may not be aware, though, that as they swim, they keep their tails linked together.

• Those who study such things say that Napoleon Bonaparte was partial to cashmere underwear.

• Beards may be trendy these days, but if you prefer the clean-shaven look, you belong to a group that goes back further than you think. Cave art dating back to 10,000 B.C.E. depicts grown men with no beards.

• The ostrich is the world’s only two-toed bird.

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Thought for the Day: “The world is changed not by the self-regarding, but by men and women prepared to make fools of themselves.” — P.D. James (c) 2017 King Features

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