Hooah Hooyah Oorah Huzzah HUA

You’ve heard these peculiar expressions in movies and maybe in real life as well, and you might have noticed that it’s pronounced slightly differently depending on the situation. Has anyone ever explained why? Probably not, because, like most thing in this book, you’re just expected to know. No matter the variant, it’s a military expression of acknowledgment and motivation that is also used to build unit cohesion and morale. It probably all started with HUA, a radio operator acronym meaning “Heard Understood and Acknowledged”. During WWII, spoken usage of HUA […]

Batting Average

This one is purely for non-baseball fans who nevertheless feel they need to keep up with the conversations. Here is what you should already know. The Batting Average is an indicator of a batter’s performance in baseball and softball. The average is calculated by dividing the number of hits by the number of at bats, calculated to three decimal places (more if needed to break ties). Batting averages can run from 0.000 (no hits) to 1.000 (a hit every time). “Points” (a “point” is 0.001) are used to compare batting […]

What Exactly is the United Kingdom

This well-documented and complex question dogs just about every non-Briton and undoubtedly many Britons as well. Especially in the English-speaking world, the UK occupies an disproportionate amount of our popular culture, so this question should be easy to answer. But just in case, here is a brief and succinct summary to help you remember what you should already know. The full name of the UK is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, so right away you see that it has two main components, Great Britain and Northern […]

The New Colossus

“Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” Especially in these times of global migration, chances are you already know that these lines are from the famous poem associated with the Statue of Liberty. Here is what else you should know to join the conversation. The poem is an immigrant-friendly sonnet called “The New Colossus” that American poet Emma Lazarus (1849–1887) wrote in 1883 to raise money for the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. In 1903, the poem was engraved […]

Hippocratic Oath

It’s probably sufficient to know that the the Hipocratic Oath is traditionally taken by physicians in which they swear to uphold specific ethical standards. But unless you’re a doctor you’ve probably never had a reason to look into it any further than that. Here’s what you should know. The oath is credited to Hippocrates and is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world. Hipocrates, born in 460 BC, is referred to as the Father of Early Medicine, and his intellectual Hippocratic School of Medicine revolutionized medicine in […]

Military Units

Like it or not, we live in a world where the news and popular fiction is shot through with military themes and references. It’s almost like even non-military types are supposed to know how many men are in a division or how many platoons are in a company. In most cases it doesn’t matter, but I often get the feeling that I missed something somewhere. Unless you’re in the military, chances are you’re like me and kind of gloss over the exact meaning when you see these terms or even […]

Energy, Mass and the Speed of Light

You know the equation, but here is some background information that you should also know. You never know when it might come in handy. In 1905, Albert Einstein had his annus mirabilis (Latin for “extraordinary year”), publishing four major papers in the prestigious German “Annalen der Physik” (Annals of Physics), one of the oldest scientific journals on physics. These four papers contributed to the foundation of modern physics and changed our views on time, space, mass and energy. The most famous of these is his third paper, now called Special […]

La Niña, La Pinta and the Santa Maria

Here’s one you definitely should already know. But just in case… Christopher Columbus, sailing for Spain, led a fleet of three small ships on his first voyage seeking the West Indies in 1492, when he accidentally discovered the Americas. The expedition consisted of two caravels, La Niña and La Pinta, and one carrack, the command ship Santa Maria. Spanish ships at the time were usually named after saints, so Nina and Pinta were only nicknames. La Niña’s real name was the Santa Clara, while La Pinta’s real name is unknown. […]

Primary Colors

If you’re like me, you probably get confused when trying to recall the primary colors. Red, green and blue, or was it cyan, magenta and yellow? Both actually. You learned it way back in art class, you knew it at one point in your life, but unless you work them on a regular basis, you probably forgot the details. Here is a refresher on what you should already know. Primary colors cannot be created from other colors. Instead, they are the source for creating all other colors. The confusion comes […]

Sempre Fi

In case you really don’t know, “Semper Fi” is an affectionate abbreviation of the motto of the United States Marine Corps. The full Latin phrase is semper fideles, which means “always faithful” or “always loyal”. The USMC have had “Semper Fideles” as their motto since 1883. It’s also the name of one of their best-known marches, authored by John Phillips Sousa. Semper Fidelis isn’t exclusively owned by the Marines though. It’s been the motto of towns, families and other military organizations going back centuries. Abbeville (France), Exeter (England) and even […]