Mad Dog’s Rules of Etiquette

Before he became the 26th Secretary of Defense, James Mattis was a general in the U.S. Marines Corps. He earned his nickname of "Mad Dog" with his characteristic bluntness and determination. He famously advised fellow Marines, "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet."

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Keeping Up on the Rent, Even When the Property is Lost

For 800 years the city of London has been careful to make sure it pays its annual rent for two pieces of land it leases from the Crown. In its determination not to fall delinquent in payments, it unfortunately overlooked one thing: the location of these properties. It continues to pay the rent, even though... Continue Reading →

Meet the Woman Whose Name is on the Declaration of Independence

Women would not receive the right to vote in the United States until 1920. Ironically, 144 years before this oversight was addressed, it was a woman who played a key role in the proclamation of American independence. If you don't know who this woman is, take a look at the Declaration of Independence, and you... Continue Reading →

Did One Wrong Word Cause the Hiroshima Bombing?

Readers of Commonplace will not be surprised to learn that one little mistranslation from one language to another can be embarrassing. Whether it is one misplaced letter when cheering General Douglas MacArthur, an incompetent interpreter for a US President, or slip of a tongue during an word of encouragement from a member of the royal family, one... Continue Reading →

The Accidental Invasions of Liechtenstein

Switzerland has a long-standing tradition of neutrality and rarely gets involved in military confrontation. It may, therefore, surprise you to learn that Switzerland has invaded its neighboring country Liechtenstein, not once, but three times in a 22-year period -- each time by accident! On December 5, 1985, the Swiss Army fired rockets as part of... Continue Reading →

How did Pirates Keep the United States from Going Metric?

Of all the countries in the world, only the United States, Burma, and Liberia have not adopted the International System of Units, more commonly known as the metric system. It may seem odd that the USA, as leader of the free world, has resisted the system that works so well for everyone else. Some chalk... Continue Reading →

Horsing Around With Royalty

President Ronald Reagan shared Queen Elizabeth II's love of horses. During a state visit to the United Kingdom, the President accepted the Queen's invitation to go horseback riding together. As the two leaders rode along, the Queen's horse suddenly began expelling gas loudly, in sync with each step. The Queen was mortified and said, "Oh, I am... Continue Reading →

Which Nation Has the Most Time Zones? The Answer May Surprise You!

Do you think you know which nation has the most time zones? Think again, because the answer may surprise you. Common sense tells us it should be Russia. The largest nation in the world should cover the most time zones, right? If your answer was Russia, you are incorrect. While Russia does boast an impressive... Continue Reading →

North Korea: A Second-Century Kind of Country

Anyone who has seen satellite photos of North Korea at night and noted the absence of electric lights might conclude it is a country that is operating behind the times, but would you guess 1,911 years behind the times? In 1997 North Korea officially adopted the Juche calendar. It marks the years from the birthday... Continue Reading →

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