If you love but can’t afford to buy the works of Picasso, Keith Haring, or Frida Kahlo, no problem. You can buy works “in the style of” for practically nothing.

“In the style of” sounds fancy, but what it really means is “made in a knock-off factory in North Carolina.” In other words, works such as these have zero investment value. But they aren’t forgeries because they aren’t replicas. They are made to look like the originals but are painted  by a skilled hourly worker in a couple of days.Here, for example, are some “in the style” of offerings in a recent catalog from a Florida art auction house. LINK

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In his farewell address, George Washington warned against future threats to the newly formed nation, including “entanglements” in foreign wars and the rise of political factions. He was smart to warn us. Too bad we didn’t listen. You can read the whole thing here history.com George Washington farewell speech in this article on History.com.

 

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The parachute is only one of many inventions attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci that seem to have more to do with modern technology than that of the Renaissance. A few examples…

* the aerial screw – which presages the helicopter, or at least the concept of vertical flight

* the ornithopter – which demonstrates an understanding of aerodynamics fundamental to the development of aviation

* the robot – not in the modern sense, but a self-operating automaton that was capable of moving without human aid/intervention

* the machine gun – a 33-barrelled thing, nothing like the modern machine gun but notable for introducing the concept of a rapid-fire weapon

* the diving suit – strikingly similar to early prototypes of the modern diving suit

(Source: HistoryLists.com)

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You probably know that Valentine’s Day commemorates the death of St. Valentine, who was executed by Emperor Claudius II on February 14 sometime in the 3rd century. But you probably don’t know why he was sentenced to death. According to ReadersDigest.com, “the most popular [legend] says he was a priest who married young couples after Claudius outlawed marriage for young men. (Apparently, they were better soldiers when they weren’t romantically attached.) Another says he helped save Catholics who were imprisoned for their religious beliefs.

“However, the holiday may have been promoted to overshadow the pagan festival Lupercalia. Between February 13 and 15, Romans celebrated by sacrificing a goat and a dog and whipping women with their hides. Crude as it may seem, people believed this made women more fertile, and women actually lined up to get slapped with bloody hides. In the 5th century, Pope Gelasius I outlawed Lupercalia and officially declared February 14 Valentine’s Day.”

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“Beating around the bush”… “Getting the short end of the stick”… “The apple of one’s eye”… “Throw down the gauntlet”… “Red-letter day”… “You’ve got to be cruel to be kind”…

Test yourself on the origins of these old sayings in this fun little quiz from TriviaGenius.com LINK

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For a long time, the consensus of scientific opinion was that modern man descended from a single species, Homo sapiens. Neanderthals were thought to be a distant cousin that died out. But in the past decade or so, DNA testing has proffered an alternate hypothesis that is now all but irrefutable: that Neanderthals and Homo sapiens interbred. You can read about it here. LINK

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How many words are in the English language?

Last week, citing the Oxford English Dictionary, I said that there are 171,476 English words in current use. But after thinking about it, that number seemed awfully low. So I did a little research – and I found estimates all over the place, some as high as a million. It depends on how the “count” is done. The OED counts only “full” entries. Other sources count different versions of the same word (plurals, tenses, spelling), obscure and obsolete words, etc. So the answer to the question “How many words are in the English language?” appears to be: Nobody really knows.

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Tigers have striped skin, not just striped fur. A polar bear’s skin is black. Its fur is actually clear, but, like snow, it appears to be white.

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