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George Washington Had What In His Mouth?

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Nursery Rhymes

“Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo. Catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers let him go. Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo” This legendary nursery rhyme has made countless decisions for undecided people over the years. Whether you have used this rhyme to help decide your child’s first name or to figure out where you go to dinner, it is a staple decision-making tool that we all know by heart. There are many different versions of “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo” with some ending in “Out goes Y-O-U!” and others having entirely different words but the same rhythm. No matter which version you use, they all are believed to come from a rather bizarre origin. Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo may seem like gibberish, and it is, but it is believed to have come from an old English/Scottish counting system called the Anglo-Cymic Score. Shepherds in Northern England used a counting system that featured a rhyming pattern to count their sheep (if they were to count normally they would fall asleep). This counting system uses the words “Eena, meena, pera, pinn” to count from 1-4 and continues on with different variations of those four words that all rhyme. This odd counting system was likely misheard by people unfamiliar with the odd method of counting who like the way the rhyming pattern sounded and began using it themselves. Rather than counting things, the rhyme scheme was eventually used to select one item from a list of many. The popular rhyme spread rapidly across Europe and similar counting rhymes were created all over the world. Later, additional words were added to make the rhyme make a little more sense but unfortunately, the origin of the words that we know today have a pretty dark past (see link below) Racist Nursery Rhymes Walking Dead- Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mo


Music

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SOME GRAPHIC CONTENT! Opera… Is anyone a fan of it? Sure, some of us appreciate how much skill it takes to become an elite opera singer but do any of us have opera on a playlist? Most people in the U.S. probably can’t even name an opera let alone understand the language that it is sung in (most operas are sung in Italian, French or German). So, American’s may not be the most enthusiastic fans, but they should be aware of one gruesome procedure potential opera stars used to undergo in order to obtain the perfect voice. In opera, a wide range of voices are used, and each voice type has a name. Females with high voices are called “Sopranos”, while men with deep voices are known as “Bases”. Traditionally, men sing the lower notes while women sing the higher notes but, in one very rare case a man was be able to reach the highest notes that only the most talented women could hit. But how? The opera name for these uniquely talented singers was “Castrato” meaning “castrated men”. This wasn’t a cheeky name given to men with high voices, this was a very literal term meant to describe how these men achieved their high-pitched voices. At a young age, talented boys would be selected to undergo a castration procedure just before they hit puberty. This sudden removal of their manhood stunted their development and caused them to retain their childlike, high pitched voices. These singers were prized among the opera community and many of them went on to live lives of fame and success, but at what cost? Today, boys are no longer castrated for the benefit of opera goers. There was only one Castrato to ever be recorded (link below) and that recording is all that is left of the abusive practice. Interestingly, some conspiracy theorists believed that the Michael Jackson may have been castrated by his abusive father in order to retain his boyish voice. Although there is no evidence to confirm that rumor, its still interesting to consider. Castrated Opera Singer- Alessandro Moreschi Michael Jackson- Billie Jean


Medicine

Dentists are the worst. Every trip to the dentist is an hour of a strange person digging through your mouth and passive aggressively scolding you for not flossing enough. But, we all know going to the dentist is important and that we need to take good care of our teeth, so we endure the trip to the dentist’s office twice a year. Fortunately for us, dental medicine today is highly advanced. If we chip a tooth, dentists can fix it. If we have a cavity, dentists can fill it. But just a 150 years ago, dentistry was much worse than we could ever imagine. Dentistry is a professional as old as time. Historians believe that dentists have exists since 7,000 B.C. and ancient Sumerian texts from 5,000 B.C. detail ancient dentists belief that worms living in peoples teeth caused tooth decay (people believed that until the 1700’s). Ancient Greek doctor Hippocrates, known for the Hippocratic oath, stressed the importance of keeping teeth clean and treating tooth decay. For centuries, professions that had plyers and razors were de-facto dentists with black smiths and barbers being the most popular places for teeth extractions. Teeth extractions in particular were much worse back then compared to now. Although nitrous oxide (laughing gas) was discovered in the 1700’s, most tooth extractions didn’t have any anesthetic. People were forced to suffer as someone with a pair of plyers tried to quickly pull a sore tooth from their mouth. Because there wasn’t a great treatment for tooth decay, many people chose to just pull their teeth out rather than suffering with a chronic tooth ache. Sounds like a lose-lose decision. The grossest practice in old timey dentistry wasn’t the painful tooth extraction or basic lack of understanding why people’s teeth fall out, it was the use of old fashioned dentures. Most people believe that George Washington had wooden teeth but in reality, he had a mouth full of cruelty. George Washington didn’t have wooden teeth (that would be dumb) instead, he had a set of dentures that were made out of teeth pulled from slaves, hippopotamus bones and ivory from elephant tusks. Not only is it disgusting to have someone else’s teeth and animal bones in your mouth, the horrific act of collecting the materials for Washington’s dentures is enough to turn someone’s stomach. Fortunately for us today, dentistry became a more serious profession starting in the late 1800’s and over the course of a century the profession has come a long way. We no longer need to pull teeth to treat a tooth ache and don’t have makeshift dentures. The next time you sit in that dentist chair and listen to the dentist ramble on about flossing “all the way back” just be grateful that you don’t need to pull your own teeth or chew with some poor soul’s teeth.


This Week in History

On this week in 1964, Cassius Clay, a 22-year-old boxer knocked out the reigning heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in the 7th round to win the heavyweight championship of the world. Prior to the fight, Cassius Clay had predicted his victory over Liston stating that he could “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee”. The young champ later changed his name from Cassius Clay to Muhammed Ali in alignment with his Muslim faith and went on to become one of the greatest professional boxers of all time.


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