Misc Musings

Why are British Electrical Plugs the Best in the World?

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There are many different plug designs throughout the world, the British plug might appear to be quite bulky compared to its European and American sleek, twin pronged brothers. However there are many reasons why the British plug is one of the best inventions in the world.

First of all its important to understand what each of the 3 prongs on the plug do, the large one at the top is the earth pin which is used to ground electricity should anything go wrong, it sends electricity back away from you instead of through you and through your heart. The other two pins are live and neutral these two are the ones that must connect to the contacts in a socket to cause an electrical circuit.

You may have noticed that the ground pin is slightly longer than the other two pins, this is for a very important reason. If you look at a socket in your house and look where the live and neutral pins would have to be inserted you might notice something, there are plastic shutters covering the metal contacts that you won’t be able to open, no matter how hard you try. In order to open these shutters you must first insert the earth pin, this causes the shutters to open and the live and neutral pins to make contact with the metal inside to complete the circuit. This makes it extremely difficult for a child with a fork to electrocute themselves by accident as they have to simultaneously open the shutter and insert the fork at the same time.

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Food Misc Musings

Potatoes were Illegal in France between 1748 and 1772

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In the 16th Century the Spanish conquered the Inca Empire in South America, with this they returned to Europe with a new vegetable; the potato. However, this new produce was not so easily adopted by the rest of Europe, farmers in France in particular were very distrustful.

The farmers considered the vegetable strange and poisonous, even as going as far as claiming the potato caused leprosy and other terrible diseases. The potato was only given to their farm animals and even the poorest, starving peasants were afraid to eat them. The French government was so concerned about the potatoes ill effects that the production and consumption of potatoes was eventually outlawed by the French Parliament in 1748.

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History Misc Musings

When the Queen Goes to Parliament she Holds an MP Hostage

The official opening of Parliament in the UK is a ceremony held to mark the formal start of the parliamentary year, it is steeped in ancient traditions with one of the strangest being that the Queen holds an MP hostage in Buckingham Palace to ensure her safe return. This still goes on today with the hostage for 2014 being Vice Chamberlain Desmond Swayne.

This tradition dates back to the 17th century and the English Civil War where the monarch, King Charles I, and Parliament were on less friendly terms. Due to the hostility between the parties, King Charles was very distrustful of parliament and was so concerned for his life when entering that he decided to take a hostage to ensure his survival. He was right to be concerned, as he was eventually executed by parliament in 1649. However, nowadays the procedure is purely ceremonial though the hostage of the crown does remain under armed guard.

Another interesting tradition that takes place when the Queen opens parliament is that the cellars of the Palace of Westminster are searched by her Yeomen of the Guard in order to prevent a modern-day gunpowder plot such as was orchestrated by Guy Fawkes in 1605 where English Catholics attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament and kill the Protestant King James I and aristocracy. The cellars

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Food Misc Musings

Peanuts Don’t Actually Contain Nuts

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A nut is classed as  a simple dry fruit with one seed (very occasionally two) and a hard shell which grow on trees. Examples of true nuts are chestnuts, hazelnuts, and acorns. However, peanuts, are not classed as nuts, they are actually a type of pea that grows underground.

Along with beans, peas and lentils, peanuts are classed as a legume. Legumes are a type of edible seed that grow inside small pods. The peanut plant flowers above ground but the peanut seeds (the bits we eat) mature underground and grow in  small pods.

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