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Author Topic: DAILY BRIEFING  (Read 62220 times)

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Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #150 on: August 13, 2016, 04:12:23 PM »

DID YOU KNOW ?

UMPIRE

Arbiter.
Before it mellowed to describe a judge in a sporting contest, this was
the title of the stickler who refereed judicial combat as the numpire,
from the Old French for "non-pair/peer;' indicating impartiality.
This entered English as "numpire;' but by the 15th century the "n''
had leeched back to the article to produce "an umpire:' Much the
same happened to "napron:' "nadder;' and "norange:' with the reverse
happening to "ewt" and "ekename;' which today appear as "newt"
and "nickname:' STICKLER

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #151 on: August 21, 2016, 07:58:48 PM »

DID YOU KNOW ?

CHAPEL

Place of worship.
St Martin of Tours (d. AD 397) is said to have been a Roman soldier
who, on seeing a beggar shivering at the gates of Amiens, divided his
centurion's cape with the wretch and went on his way with what little
he had left. The beggar was Jesus, who later appeared to Martin in a
dream, wearing the half-cape, and told him to quit the army and
place himself under the guidance of the Bishop of Poitiers. The
French built a significant cult around this saint, and any battle or
treaty requiring the royal presence demanded that the cappella, or
cloak, believed to be St Martin's half of the divided garment, be taken
along in its ornate ark and a small place of worship be built at every
stop on the journey. Each of these places was designated a cappella,
now "chapel;' and, in imitation of St Martin, each soldier delegated
to leave the army and remain behind as custodian took the title of
cappellain, which evolved into "chaplain:'

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #152 on: February 09, 2017, 01:17:16 PM »

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RUN AMOK

Lose control.
This was the Malay equivalent of the Viking berserk, a warrior in a
homicidal frenzy bent on killing as many of the enemy as possible.
The Malays occupied and gave their name to Malabar on the west
coast of India where, until the 17th century, their king was required
to cut his own throat in public after 12 years of rule. At that time, the
ritual was modified so that the king was required to stand in public,
surrounded by his bodyguards, as an open invitation to any amok,
"frenzied warrior;' who dared to attack the bodyguards, kill the king,
and take his place for the next 12 years. Visiting Europeans brought
home the phrase after watching one amoker after the other meet their
deaths at the hands of the king's bodyguards. "Run amok" is often
written as "run amuck;' incorrectly. BERSERK

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #153 on: February 12, 2017, 07:19:08 AM »

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #154 on: February 23, 2017, 10:14:08 AM »
DID YOU KNOW ?

LACONIC

Terse or concise.
By the close of the 8th century BC Laconia was the region of modern Greece ruled by the warlike city of Sparta, whose citizens were not very talkative. Their approach to verbosity is best summed up by the probably apocryphal story of King Philip II of Macedon sending word to the Spartan council: "If I enter Laconia, I will level Lacedaemon to the ground." The ephors, or senior magistrates, returned the message: "If." A more recent military laconicism is "Nuts!" This was the famous reply made by General McAuliffe to the German demands for him to surrender Bastogne and the American 101st Airborne during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. The 101st managed to hold the town.

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #155 on: March 19, 2017, 08:53:06 AM »

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FULL TILT

Maximum speed.
Yomping across rough terrain on a horse while holding an 8-foot pole at the horizontal was not a sensible option for knights in combat. Instead, they held their lances upright until closing with their opponent at top speed, at which point the lance would be lowered, or tilted, down to use. The phrase "full tilt" thus came to mean "full speed" in a metaphorical sense.

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #156 on: March 26, 2017, 06:05:41 PM »

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TWENTY-ONE GUN SALUTE

Gesture of respect.
Gestures of respect or submission involving weapons rendered inoperable are nothing new - bows held backwards and lances being dragged in the dust are all recorded - but it was difficult to tell with cannon or musket by just looking at them that this had been done, so they had to be discharged to put the opposition at their ease. Any ship entering a foreign port was expected to discharge all guns to indicate friendly intentions. However, black powder was a valuable commodity at sea with a short shelf-life in the damp and salty conditions, so something had to be done to limit salutes without causing offense.
In 1675, Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), First Secretary of the British Admiralty, worked out a strict code to limit the ever-escalating number of salutes and the attendant waste of powder and shot. Pepys' scale started at three guns for the most junior admiral and added two more for each step in rank until it reached 19 guns for Admiral of the Fleet; he then added two more guns for a royal salute. His scale, still an accepted benchmark today, increased in odd numbers as salutes of even numbers were the accepted form for funerals.
However, everything started to creep up again. Royal salutes fired from the Tower of London soon leapt to 62 guns: 21 for the monarch, another 21 for the city, and 20 for the Tower itself. Other institutions quickly invented reasons for firing off dozens of cannon to add excitement to one occasion or another. Hyde Park still insists on 41 guns for ceremonial occasions, and indeed this was the number fired to greet American President George W. Bush on his 2003 visit to London .

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #157 on: April 01, 2017, 09:28:24 AM »

DID YOU KNOW ?

BISTRO

Small restaurant.
The popular explanation has "bistro" as a corruption of the Russian bystro, meaning "quick:' because during the 1815 occupation of France Russian officers would strut into Paris bars and cafes demanding to be served bystro! However, bistro was unknown in French until 1884. The true origins may lie in bistouille, a drink of strong coffee and brandy, or any small cafe specializing in such. The drink's name emerged from its turgid appearance and means "to stir twice:' with an additional influence from bistre, "dark" or "dark brown:'

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #158 on: April 08, 2017, 10:29:01 AM »
DID YOU KNOW ?

CAVALIER

Careless or haughty.

"Cavalier" acquired its insulting meanings during the English Civil War (1642-51) when it was used as an insult by the Parliamentary forces for their Monarchist opponents, who could be arrogant and more concerned with fashion and panache than with the serious business of war. As every schoolboy knows, the Cavaliers responded with the term "Roundheads;' but no matter how many sources say this was a snigger at their austere and shaven heads, this is not the case. Cromwell had hair as long as any Cavalier, as did his sons and close associates; some Parliamentarians did have close-cropped hair or shaved heads as a health measure, but most Cavaliers also cropped their hair so that their wigs would fit better. The nickname "Roundheads" was more likely inspired by the pudding-bowl helmets worn by Cromwell's troops. JERRY

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #159 on: April 18, 2017, 03:52:54 PM »
DID YOU KNOW ?

BLACK HOLE OF CALCUTTA


Anywhere dark, cramped, and oppressive

In the 18th century, the East India Trading Company adopted a high-handed and dictatorial attitude to the ruler of Bengal, Nawab Siraj-ud-Dawlah, harboring escapees from his courts and abusing its duty-free privileges. After talks broke down, the nawab marched on the Company's Fort William in Calcutta on June 20, 1756 and took it over. Being assured of courteous treatment and freedom to roam the installation if they gave their word to behave, the Europeans immediately began to riot, prompting the disgruntled nawab (possibly) to order the ringleaders to be locked up in their own jail. That cell only measured 18ft by 14ft (5.5 by 4m), so it was quite incapable of holding the 146 prisoners who are sometimes claimed to have been incarcerated.
British accounts mention 146 prisoners, with only 21 survivors in the morning, while others talk of perhaps 30 prisoners, mainly soldiers, of whom  a small number  did die overnight but  only as a result of wounds received during the earlier fighting. As is to be expected with such incidents, opinion as to the truth is sharply divided; the British were the only ones to write about it at the time, the British historians C. R. Wilson and S. C. Hill both being funded by Lord Curzon (Viceroy oflndia 1899-1905) to issue papers backing up the below-mentioned  Holwell's  account of the affair, so their impartiality is suspect. Most Indian academics, such as R. C. Majumdar, Vice Chancellor of Dacca University, and Busudeb Chatterjee, Director of the West Bengal Government Archives, dismiss the British account as wild imaginings.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
 The story only gained prominence in 1758, when East India Company officer John Zephaniah Holwell, who claimed to be one of the survivors, published A Genuine Narrative of the Deplorable Deaths of the English Gentlemen and Others Who Were Suffocated in the Black Hole. No one challenged this lurid account, despite  Holwell's  descriptions  of  the  blacked? out and windowless cell (hence "black hole") and countless other miseries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               The British public was in no mood for such details; public opinion demanded that the nawab be taught a lesson and placed firmly back under the authority of the East India Company. Since the Company funded the publication of Holwell's ravings, the cynical might rightly suspect political maneuverings to be at work.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
               A relief column was dispatched from Madras under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Robert Clive to expel the nawab from the fort and to re-establish the Company's grip on the local economy. Although Holwell's yarn was ridiculed behind closed doors, it was not openly challenged until 1915, when J. H. Little, Secretary of the Calcutta Historical Society, published The Black Hole - The Question of Holwell's Veracity, which poked large holes in Holwell's story. After India became  independent  in  1947,  the  Black  Hole  Monument to Indian "brutality" was demolished, but the expression remains descriptive of any dark, cramped and oppressive place.

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #160 on: April 26, 2017, 07:21:19 AM »

DID YOU KNOW ?

DECIMATE

Wholesale slaughter.
There was a Roman Army punishment  called decimation but it did not involve slaughter on a grand scale, as the word now implies; rather it meant the killing of every tenth man in a unit guilty of disobedience, riot or cowardice. Any vanquished enemy that was judged guilty of cowardice might also be decimated.
An accurate account of the procedure is to be found in the writings of Polybius of Megalopolis (200-118 BC) who accompanied Scipio the Younger on his campaigns between 149 and 146 BC. "The tribune assembles the legion, and brings up those guilty of leaving the ranks, reproaches them sharply, and finally chooses by lots sometimes five, sometimes eight, sometimes 20 of the offenders, so adjusting the number thus chosen that they form as near as possible the tenth part of those guilty of cowardice. Those on whom the lot falls are bastinadoed  [clubbed to death] mercilessly; the rest               

[who actually had to do the clubbing] receive rations of barley instead of wheat and are ordered to encamp outside the camp on an unprotected spot. As therefore the danger and dread of drawing the fatal lot affects all equally, as it is uncertain on whom it will fall; and as the public disgrace of receiving barley rations falls on all alike, this practice is that best calculated both to inspire fear and to correct the mischief' (Polybius, World History, vol. 6, 38: 2-4).
After the heyday of Scipio the Younger, this punishment seems to have lapsed until it was reinstituted by Crassus (d. 53 BC) when hunting down Spartacus in 71 BC.

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #161 on: April 29, 2017, 08:27:28 AM »
DID YOU KNOW ?

AL-QAEDA

Umbrella name for  disparate terror groups.
As with so many other Arabic terms, such as "algebra;' "alcohol;' and "alcove;' the definite article "al" is incorporated into the word in Western usage, and AJ-Qaeda means "The Base:' Whether that means a military base or something more abstract such as a principle or an ethos is unclear. It is also uncertain whether the term was first used by terror groups of themselves and subsequently picked up by Western intelligence, or whether it was a Western coinage.

In October 2001, Al Jazeera journalist Tayseer Alouni filmed an interview in which Osama bin Laden claimed: "The name al-Qaeda was established a long time ago by mere chance. The late Abu Ebeida El-Banashiri established the training camps for our mujahideen against Russia's terrorism. We used to call the training camp al-Qaeda and the name stayed:'
The BBC's Power of Nightmares program (a trilogy screened January 18-20, 2005) not only went to great lengths to show there was no such specific organization as Al-Qaeda, but also postulated that the term was the invention of Jamal al-Fadl, a former cohort of bin  Laden who had  turned  informer. The White House was determined  to prosecute bin Laden  in absentia using the  1970s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which required proof that he was the leader of a criminal organization. The indictment required a specific name and members of the CIA put this problem to al.-Fadl, who had been feeding them intelligence since 1996; he told them to opt for Al-Qaeda and the case of US v bin Laden began in February 2001. This fits chronologically with the fact that bin Laden himself only started to talk of Al-Qaeda after the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.To add further confusion, bin Laden's groups then allied with Egypt's al-Jihad to form the Qaa'idat al-Jihad, "the (power) base of the Jihad:' A third suggestion that cannot be discounted came from the late Robin Cook MP (1946-2005), British Foreign Secretary from 1997 to 2001. Cook claimed inside knowledge that the term was derived from the fact that bin Laden, and others like him, had previously been registered on a CIA database listing individuals  and groups to which  the Americans had provided arms and support in Russian-occupied Afghanistan. The day after the London bombings of July 7, 2005, Cook wrote his penultimate piece in The Guardian, describing bin Laden as ''A product of monumental miscalculations by Western intelligence agencies

Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian
occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda, literally the database, was originally a computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained by the CIA to defeat the Russians. Inexplicably, and with disastrous consequences, it never appears to have occurred to Washington that once Russia was out of the way, bin Laden's organization would turn its attention to the West. "




Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #162 on: May 06, 2017, 12:35:00 PM »
DID YOU KNOW ?

DEMARCATION LINE

Dispute line.
During the 15th century, it was papal policy to attempt to stop the ongoing wars between the rulers of  Spain  and  Portugal  as they vied with each other over new lands and possessions. Since the pope received a cut in the profits from both sides, he was thus seriously out of pocket when these two Catholic countries fought each other instead of exploiting new lands.
On May 4, 1493, Pope Alexander VI drew a line through the New World and issued a papal bull demanding that the Spanish and Portuguese should each stay on  their  own  side  of  this line of demarcation . Most of South America, which was on the Spanish side of the line, is Spanish speaking, but Brazil was on the. Portuguese side. The agreement was cemented by the Treaty
.of Tordesillas, after which Alexander VI amassed a fortune. Today he is better known as Rodrigo Borgia, who died in 1503 when he accidentally drank from the poisoned chalice he had prepared to kill Cardinal Adriano.

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #163 on: May 10, 2017, 02:34:37 PM »
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CROUPIER

Casino dealer.
Medieval knights traveled light, with just a servant or arms bearer riding pillion on the croupe, as a horse's rear is known in French, gaining them the title croupier. When several knights camped together they invariably fell to gaming as a form of entertainment. The croupiers drew lots to see who would be the appointed dealer for the night and would therefore profit from the tips. A directly related word is "croup;' a collection of symptoms that includes a strange cough fancied to resemble the kind of noise heard from a horse's croup. HOIST ON YOUR OWN PETARD

Offline rufusredtail

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Re: DAILY BRIEFING
« Reply #164 on: May 13, 2017, 04:48:08 PM »
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ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT

Ominous silence.
This expression, dating from World War I, refers to the 600-mile line of confrontation running from the Swiss border down to the English Channel, with various sections of the whole identified as either the Hindenburg Line or the Siegfried Line. From a geographical standpoint this is an odd expression to find in English usage, because only for the Germans was this the Western Front. From London, it was the Eastern Front. For the Germans, the Eastern Front ran from Riga to the Black Sea and the Southern Front from the Swiss Border to Trieste. German military dispatches so frequently stated Im Westen nichts neues, "nothing new in the West;' that the phrase was adopted by the German press and turned into something of catchphrase. Erich Maria Remarque (1898-1970) used it as the title of his 1929 book that detailed the horrors and boredom of trench warfare. When the book was translated into English the title was deliberately amended to echo other titles, such as that of the American Civil War song, "All Quiet along the Potomac Tonight;' and ''.All Quiet in the Shipka Pass:' The latter was the caption to a famous Russian cartoon of 1878 by Vasily Vereshchagin, showing dead and frozen Russian troops during the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78).

 

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