From a US based publication, but I expect the trend would be similar in other places… no more than twenty percent of calls to a fire station are on account of a fire, rather those contacting the fire brigade have an emergency of some other nature on their hands:
If fire departments aren’t getting calls about fires, what are they mostly getting calls about? They are getting calls about medical emergencies, traffic accidents, and, yes, cats in trees, but they are rarely being called about fires. They are, in other words, organizations that, despite their name, deal with everything but fires. Why, then, are they called fire departments? Because of history. Cities used to be built out of pre-combustion materials – wood straight from the forest, for example – but they are now mostly built of post-combustion materials – steel, concrete, and other materials that have passed through flame. Fire departments were created when fighting fires was an urgent urban need, and now their name lives on, a reminder of their host cities’ combustible past.
There’ll likely be something for everyone in here… Reddit members have put together a list of historical events, that while unrelated, either occurred at the same time, or say something about the age of well known institutions relative to each other:
Pablo Picasso died the year Pink Floyd released “Dark Side of the Moon”
Oxford University is older than the Aztec Empire
Nintendo formed the same year Van Gogh painted Starry Night
Some of the inclusions may be subject to qualification but that makes them no less fascinating.
Another of life’s unasked questions possibly, why does the mouse cursor point at an angle, or to eleven o’clock, if you see it that way, rather than straight up? Seemingly it comes down to the low resolution of the early monitors in use at the time the mouse was invented by US engineer Douglas Englebart:
The mouse, and therefore the mouse cursor, was invented by Douglas Englebart, and was initially an arrow pointing up. When the XEROX PARC machine was built, the cursor changed into a tilted arrow. It was found that, given the low resolution of the screens in those days, drawing a straight line and a line in the 45 degrees angle was easier to do and more recognizable than the straight cursor.
There have been five mass extinction events while there has been life on Earth, including the one that took out the dinosaurs. Now we may be in the throes of a sixth such happening. Don’t go underestimating the gravity of what is happening on account of the apparent absence of fire, brimstone, thunder, lightening, and who knows what else, though:
Nowadays, many scientists are predicting that we’re on track for a sixth mass extinction. The world’s species already seem to be vanishing at an unnaturally rapid rate. And humans are altering the Earth’s landscape in far-reaching ways: We’ve hunted animals like the great auk to extinction. We’ve cleared away broad swaths of rain forest. We’ve transported species from their natural habitats to new continents. We’ve pumped billions of tons of carbon-dioxide into the atmosphere and oceans, transforming the climate.
A friend’s young son recently found himself in hot water for using the word in question, in a Disney operated discussion forum no less, so I shall refrain from actually making mention of it here and now. Still, if language and history are your things, you can read more about the origins of said word here:
Another theory for its late arrival is that it’s a borrowing from Norse (the Vikings) via Scottish because several early instances are found in Scottish writing (such as the fifteenth-century one discounted in that other article). However, this is generally believed to be unlikely, in part because the Scottish weren’t considered influential enough for English to borrow words from them. Perhaps there were more early written examples in Scottish simply because they were less prudish about writing it.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century, Italian scientist and astronomer Galileo Galilei, using one of the earliest telescopes, became the first person to draw up images of the Moon with any sort of detail. That actually seems mildly surprising because quite good renderings could still be made of Earth’s satellite without the aid of a telescope.
William Shakespeare was many things, poet, playwright, world’s greatest English language writer, the list goes on. But how about science fiction author? There looks to be an argument in the affirmative here:
Finally, Shakespeare wasn’t quite ready to retire in 1610. This was the year he wrote Cymbeline – containing, arguably, an even more tantalising allusion to the new cosmology. In this admittedly weird play, Jupiter himself descends from the heavens. Could the four ghosts that dance around the play’s hero represent the planet’s four newly discovered Jovian moons, described by Galileo earlier that year? Usher suspects so – and so does Scott Maisano of the University of Massachusetts in Boston, along with John Pitcher at Oxford, who have each written in support of the idea.