Tag: History

When Did “The Present” Begin?

It’s a harder question than it sounds. Does the present refer to right this second?
Today? This year? The past few years? Fortunately, science has the answer.

The PresentDifferent scientific disciplines, cultures, and religions base their calendars on different “zero” moments. In geology, as well as other scientific disciplines, the epoch of time referred to as “the present” began on January 1, 1950. It’s a somewhat arbitrary, compromise of a date, but a fixed moment in the study of things that takes a really, really long time to change or move.

Dog Islands

These far-flung locales are going to the dogs…that is if they haven’t already.

Snoopy Island

Snoopy IslandNishinoshima lies off Japan’s Pacific coastline and is best known for its active volcano, which last erupted in November. The ensuing lava flow created an entirely new island called Niijima. But the volcano wasn’t quite done. In the weeks that followed, it spewed out enough lava to connect the two islands as one. This strange event caused many a volcanologist to cry “good grief!” when they first saw aerial photos of the new, improved Nishinoshima: because the island now strongly resembles Snoopy. However, Japanese scientists aren’t ready to rename it “Snoopy Island” just yet. They say that the volcano is still active and that Nishinoshima’s current shape may only be temporary.

California, There They Go!

CaliforniaEarlier this year, we told you about some communities around the country aiming to separate from their states to create brand new U.S. states. Add another candidate to the mix—this one’s in northern California.

In September 2013, citizens and officials in Siskiyou County, the northernmost county in California, met to discuss their dissatisfaction with, and alienation from, the state government in Sacramento. Siskiyou, along with a lot of northern California, is primarily rural, and the economy is driven by farming and logging. Much of the rest of California is highly populated, urban, and leans to the left politically. Feeling that they shouldn’t be government by a government that doesn’t have its needs at heart, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 in favor of a declaration to secede from California.

Happy Birthday, Elvis (From Some Other People Named Elvis)

other people named elvisElvis Presley is probably the most iconic rock star of all time and certainly the most famous person ever named Elvis. On what would have been his 79th birthday, here are some other notable “Elvi.”

The Funny Elvis

Ylvis are a Norwegian comedy duo. Pronounced “ill-vis,” it’s an abbreviation of the duo’s last name, brothers Bard Yylvisaker and Vegard Ylvisaker. Ylvis hosts I kveld meld Ylvis, or Tonight with Ylvis, a popular sketch comedy show in Norway. Their best-known work is a silly music video called “The Fox (What Does the Fox Say)” which spread around the world via YouTube and has racked up more than 320 million views. The song, about how nobody seemingly knows what kind of animal sound a fox makes, hit #1 in Norway and #6 in the U.S.—the highest-charting novelty song in more than 20 years.

Why Do People Call Coffee “Joe”?

Pour yourself a steaming cup of facts.

Coffee To Go Cup IsolatedThe phrase comes from the U.S. Navy in the early 20th century. A well-known origin story traces it to 1913. That year, President Wilson appointed Josephus Daniels to the position of Secretary of the Navy. He immediately made a number of reforms, notably banning alcohol from naval vessels. Sailors now had nothing on board stronger than coffee, which they derisively nicknamed “joe” after Daniels.