Today I Learned…

…that the name “Idaho” is completely made up.  One-hundred percent fake.

In the early 1860s, lobbyist George M. Willing suggested that Congress name their potential new Rocky Mountain territory “Idaho.”  He claimed this came from a Shoshone word meaning “gem of the mountain” or “the sun comes from the mountains.”  He later claimed to have made the name up — Congress didn’t officially accept the name, but it stuck amongst the locals.

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Today I Learned…

…about one of the last unexplored places on Earth, North Sentinel Island in the Bay of Bengal.  Its inhabitants, the Sentinelese, are extremely hostile to outsiders and remain one of the few societies on the planet untouched by modern civilization.  Any attempt to contact them is met by a hail of arrows.  It is unknown how many Sentinelese exist; estimates range from a few dozen anywhere to 400.  Government officials were worried about the fate of the natives after the 2004 tsunami, but they killed two fisherman in 2006 who strayed too close and then attacked the helicopter sent by the Indian coast guard to collect the bodies. (Thanks to mental_floss magazine.)

Today I Learned…

…that the final British monarch to also be an emperor was George VI (thanks Spam!)

…that the largest US state capital to not have a franchise in one of the four major American sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) is Austin, TX.

…that ET used a Speak ‘n’ Spell made by Texas Instruments to “phone home” (nailed the final question!).

…that Team “Mounting Sexual Theoretics” was the final 3rd place team to bring home a prize at Rulloff’s trivia!  $15!

Today I Learned…

…about a small South Pacific island country called Niue.  It’s in “free association” with New Zealand, which means that while the Premier of Niue handles all internal affairs, New Zealand is responsible for its national defense and diplomatic relations, and Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state.

I bring this up because Niue was one of only three nations in the whole world to go for John McCain in the iftheworldcouldvote election, along with Albania and Macedonia.

Today I Learned…

…that the woman who could possibly be the vice president serving under who would be the oldest president ever (with a history of cancer to boot) has never governed over anything with as many people as Detroit.  That’s right, metropolitan Detroit has a higher population than the entire state of Alaska.  Apparently she has an accent right out of Fargo too.

Gutsy choice, but I’m not sure it’s really going to play out the way that McCain wants it to.  I have a feeling that Biden is just going to destroy her in the VP debate — it’s almost not fair.

EDIT:  As I found on this blog, not only is John McCain older than the state of Alaska, but he’s also been officially running for President in this cycle longer than Sarah Palin has been governor!

Today I Learned…

…two really cool things about Juneau, Alaska (both from Jeopardy!).

First, the metropolitan area of Juneau is larger than either Rhode Island or Delaware, and is almost as large as the two states combined.

Second, the Juneau area is technically considered a rainforest.  When I heard this, I exclaimed, “wait, don’t rainforests have to be in the tropics?”  But no!  Apparently, a tropical rainforest is just a subcategory of a larger set.  A rainforest just needs to be a forested area which has an average minimum yearly rainfall between 68 and 78 inches (according to Wikipedia).  These can occur anywhere on Earth.  What we normally think of as a rainforest (of café fame) is actually characterized as a tropical rainforest — merely a rainforest which happens to  fall between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer.

Further Reading