Virus/Hoak... NOT!

(11) Popular on the World Wide Web is "
I bet you didn't know this.

There are pages of trivia pointing out something you did not know. Many of them are hoaxes, jokes, or just plain "put on's."

Here is a collection at random. I suggest you read from top to bottom, meaning read them all first. Then go to the answers, noted as 1, 2, 3, 4, These footnotes are the facts. Or if you like, read the answers first, and then go to the questions.

The airplane Buddy Holly died in was the "American Pie." (Thus the name of the Don McLean song.) 1.

The phrase "rule of thumb" is derived from an old English law which stated that you couldn't beat your wife with anything wider than your thumb. 2

The term "the whole 9 yards" came from W.W.II fighter pilots in the Pacific. When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards." 3

In the current film, Titanic, the character Rose is shown giving the finger to Cal (another character). Many people, who have seen the film, question whether "giving the finger" was done around the time of the Titanic disaster, or was it a more recent gesture invented by some defiant seventh-grader.

Actually it goes back to right around the time of the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, the French, anticipating victory over the English, proposed to cut off the middle finger of all captured English soldiers. Without the middle finger it would be impossible to draw the renowned English longbow and therefore be incapable of fighting in the future. This famous weapon was made of the native English Yew tree, and the act of drawing the longbow was known as "plucking the yew" (or "pluck yew").

Much to the bewilderment of the French, the English won a major upset and began mocking the French by waving their middle fingers at the defeated French, saying, "See, we can still pluck yew! PLUCK YEW!"

Over the years some 'folk etymologies' have grown up around this symbolic gesture. Since 'pluck yew' is rather difficult to say (like "pleasant mother pheasant plucker", which is who you had to go to for the feathers used on the arrows for the longbow), the difficult consonant cluster at the beginning has gradually changed to a labiodental fricative 'F', and thus the words often used in conjunction with the one-finger-salute. 4

1 .Both the Buddy Holly internet pages and Don McClean internet pages, with analysis of the lyrics, actual Civil Aeronatics Review of the crash, and all the information you would want to know report the plane was a rented plane, the crash was pilot error, and the name of the plane was not "American Pie."

This is a response from an e-mail to the administrator of the Buddy Holly Fan Club page:

AS IN AS AMERICAN as apple PIE a reference to the loss of innocence

" I don't want you to pledge your future,
the futures not yours to give ............"
- Don McLean

There are two other opinions, but both are "not confirmed" and also do not apply to the lyric analysis on the Don McLaren Home page. They are also sent around as trivia, but they are also false.

Don McLean dated a Miss America candidate during the pageant ( not confirmed)

The Annotated American Pie
From: (Rich Kulawiec)

**Don McLean dated a Miss America candidate during a pageant and broke up with her on February 3, 1959 ( not confirmed ).

The name of the plane or an ex-girl friend: These interpretations are off base. If you listen to the song, you will realize it could never been a homage or reference to a rented aircraft by an inexperienced pilot who had very little experience in flying in the weather by instruments on this small aircraft ( see to find out more about Buddy Holly ).

2. If you believe the beating of the wife, get thee to a shrink. The Official QPB Encyclopedia reports two claims to this to the "Rule of Thumb:: Brewmasters of old often tested the temperature of a batch of beer by dipping a thumb in the brew, their long experience telling them how well the beer was brewing. One theory has it that our expression for a rough guesswork derives from this ractice. More likely it stems from the ancient use of the last join of the thumb as a measuring device for roughly one inch. ( QPB Encylopeida of Word and Phrase Origins ).

3. For at least 30 years this expression has meant "all of it, everything," as in "Give me the whole nine yards." This phrase was made popular among construction workers and passed down to meaning, give me the hold load, referring to the maximum capacity a cement-mixer truck can carry---nine cubic yards of cement. ( QPB Encylocpidies of Word and Phrase Origins ).

4. You've got to be kidding if you did not smell a hoax with "Pluckin' the Yew." I don't need to explain where the middle finger comes from, but I can relate the official Battle of Agincourt, 1415 A.D. ( you be the judge as to if the "Pluckin'" story is true:

From Connections by James Burke

At dawn on 25 October both armies had been in position all night. The French had chosen the worst possible position from which to strike: they were between two woods: Tremecourt and Agincourt, which stood about three-quarters of a mile apart, but closed at the point where the French would meet the English to about half a mile. Into this gap would go all 25,000 French. As dawn rose, the French were in no state to fight. If had been raining all night, making the battlefield sodden with heavy, clinging mud and most of the French knights had spent the night in the saddle in order to keep dry and were now standing around to keep their armour from getting muddy. The English were not much better off. In the previous seventeen days they had ridden or walked the 270 miles from where they had landed, with only one days rest. For eight of those days they had been carrying heavy stakes cut from the woods to the south. It had rained most of the way and they had little to eat but nuts and half-cooked meat. Many of them were suffering from bronchitis and dysentery. And they were outnumbered four to one by the French.

The armies took up their battle formations. The French, whose 25,000 included 15,000 mounted knights, drew their riders up in five ranks, the first two ranks dismounted, with a few cross bowmen in among them. The English formed three groups, four ranks deep, of dismounted men-at-arms, with wedges of archers between them. On the wings, facing inward, were two more groups of archers. For four hours nobody moved. The French knights were arguing about whether or not to charge, and by 11 A.M. there was a lot of jostling and pushing as the differences in rank and region began to show. No knight wanted to be in the second rank at the charge. Insults were exchanged and arguments flared as the motley nature of the army, drawn from all over France, became clear. Meanwhile Henry had moved his men forward to within bow shot of the French, about 300 yards away. The stakes the English had carried for eight days were stuck in the mud, angled towards the French, points up.

Still the French shoved and muttered, but did not move; Henry decided to make their minds up for them, and ordered his archers to fire into the air. Arrows from a thousand bows rained on the French, galling the horses and wounding the tightly packed mass. Suddenly, the French charged, apparently without any central order, straight across the mud at the English. This time Henry's archers fired for the horses, bringing down riders in the hundreds. Many suffocated in the mud, unable to move in their armour, as their compatriots piled on top of them; many others were dispatched by English archers running forward to slide a knife between the joints in their armor. In half an hour it was over. The Engllish had lost 500 men; the French 10,000. The myth of the invincible knight was shattered.

The weapon that has so suddenly turned the medieval social order upside down was the Welsh longbow. It had been introduced by Edward I, and was a formidable weapon that could shoot a rider at 400 yards, and with special steeled points would even penetrate armour at close range. An experienced archer could loose nine arrows a minute, and, as the grim jest of an English writer put it, when the French would turn to show their backsides to the English in disdain at the bow, `the breech of such a varlet has been nailed to his back with an arrow, and another feathered in his bowels before he should have turned to see who shot the first.' Fully three hundred years after Agincourt the longbow was still considered by many military experts to be the finest weapon any army could wish for.


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As a rule of thumb, you can guess the whole nine yards of internet is not as real as American Pie as you can always pluck your yew without your middle finger. In fact, you can use your feet. But anyway, if you have another side to this Internet "facts," please let me hear from you.


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