Macaroni

“There is indeed a kind of animal, neither male nor female, a thing of the neuter gender, lately started up among us. It is called a macaroni. It talks without meaning, it smiles without pleasantry, it eats without appetite, it rides without exercise, it wenches without passion.”

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Nephilim

The nephilim (Hebrew: נְפִילִים‎, sing. נָפִיל‎, Naphíl or Naphil) were offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” before the Deluge.

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The All-Joking, All-Drunken Synod of Fools and Jesters

The All-Joking, All-Drunken Synod of Fools and Jesters (1692–1725) was a club founded by Peter I of Russia. The group included many of Peter’s closest friends, and its activities centered mostly around drinking and partying.

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Gee-haw Whammy Diddle

A gee-haw whammy diddle is a mechanical toy consisting of two wooden sticks.  Gee-haw refers to the fact that, by rubbing your finger against the notched stick while rubbing, the direction of the spinning propeller may be reversed. The operator may do this surreptitiously and yell “gee” or “haw” to make it appear that the propeller is reacting to the commands. If you call it a hooey stick, you would yell “hooey” each time you want the direction to change.

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The Defenestrations of Prague

The Defenestrations of Prague were two incidents in the history of Bohemia in which multiple people were defenestrated (i.e., thrown out a window).   Each helped to trigger prolonged conflict, within Bohemia and beyond.

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Mamihlapinatapai

It refers to “a look shared by two people, each wishing that the other would initiate something that they both desire but which neither wants to begin.”

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The Banach–Tarski Paradox

The Banach–Tarski paradox is a theorem in set-theoretic geometry, which states the following: Given a solid ball in 3 dimensional space, there exists a decomposition of the ball into a finite number of disjoint subsets, which can then be put back together in a different way to yield two identical copies of the original ball.

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Robert Liston

Amputated a leg in under 2 and 1/2 minutes. He amputated in addition the fingers of his young assistant. He also slashed through the coat tails of a distinguished surgical spectator, who was so terrified that the knife had pierced his vitals he dropped dead from fright.

That was the only operation in history with a 300 percent mortality.

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Netochka Nezvanova (author)

Netochka Nezvanova is the pseudonym used by the author(s) of nato.0+55+3d, a real-time, modular, video and multi-media processing environment.

Besides her audio-visual software art, the fame and notoriety of ‘Netochka Nezvanova’ stems from the complex and intricate online behavior she displayed through her various identities on countless mailing lists and websites, by which she mesmerized and vexed some internet users and the operators of her software products alike.

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William Cowper Brann

He was particularly noted for his writings attacking religious conservatism. “I have nothing against the Baptists. I just believe they were not held under long enough”

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Lake Karachay

According to a report by the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute on nuclear waste, Karachay is the most polluted place on Earth.

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RAS Syndrome

RAS syndrome (short for “redundant acronym syndrome syndrome”) refers to the use of one or more of the words that make up an acronym in conjunction with the abbreviated form, thus in effect repeating one or more words.

The term RAS syndrome is intentionally redundant, and thus an example of self-referential humor.

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Cat Organ

A cat organ or cat piano (German: Katzenorgel or Katzenklavier, French: orgue à chats or piano à chats/pianno chats) is a conjectural musical instrument which consists of a line of cats fixed in place with their tails stretched out underneath a keyboard so that they cry out in pain when a key is pressed. The cats would be arranged according to the natural tone of their voices.

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Moe Berg

Morris “Moe” Berg (March 2, 1902 – May 29, 1972), was an American catcher and coach in Major League Baseball who later served as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II.

Berg was assigned to attend a lecture and determine “if anything Heisenberg said convinced him the Germans were close to a bomb.” If Berg came to the conclusion that the Germans were close, he had orders to shoot Heisenberg; Berg determined that the Germans were not close.

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Rhinoceros (play)

Over the course of three acts, the inhabitants of a small, provincial French town turn into rhinoceroses; ultimately the only human who does not succumb to this mass metamorphosis is the central character, Bérenger, a flustered everyman figure who is initially criticized in the play for his drinking, tardiness, and slovenly lifestyle and then, later, for his increasing paranoia and obsession with the rhinoceroses.

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Anglo-Zanzibar War

The Anglo-Zanzibar War was a military conflict fought between the United Kingdom and the Zanzibar Sultanate on 27 August 1896. The conflict lasted between 38 and 45 minutes, marking it as the shortest recorded war in history.

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Ismail al-Jazari

Al-Jazari created a musical automaton, which was a boat with four automatic musicians that floated on a lake to entertain guests at royal drinking parties. Professor Noel Sharkey has argued that it is quite likely that it was an early programmable automata and has produced a possible reconstruction of the mechanism; it has a programmable drum machine with pegs (cams) that bump into little levers that operated the percussion. The drummer could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns if the pegs were moved around.

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Marshalite

The Marshalite is a form of rotary traffic signal that was designed by Charles Marshall in 1936. With the Marshalite, drivers have a clear indication of when the signals will change though the exact point of change is not clear.

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General Order No. 11 (1862)

General Order No. 11 was the title of an order issued by Major-General Ulysses S. Grant on December 17, 1862, during the American Civil War. It ordered the expulsion of all Jews in his military district, comprising areas of Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kentucky.

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The RepRap Project

The RepRap project started in England as a University of Bath initiative to develop a 3D printer that can print most of its own components.

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