Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tuesday Trivia

Dead Man Walking

The phrase "dead man walking" was used by death row prison officers in the US to clear hallways to allow the condemned person to walk to his execution place. Often the warden would be the person leading and calling out "Dead man walking! Dead man walking here!" The term is no longer used in prisons in that context but remains in use with a broader meaning to indicate someone in a losing situation eg someone still working where job loss is imminent. It is also the name of a 1996 film in which Sean Penn plays a prisoner on Death Row.

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Barak and Michelle Obama fist bump after securing the Democratic nomination in 2008

Fist Bump:

Whilst it is known that the handshake begat the "gimme-five" palm slap, which begat the "high-five", which begat the fist bump, the actual how, when and where of the fist bump is murky.

Some claims to the origin:
  • That it began in the 1970s with NBA players like Baltimore Bullets guard Fred Carter bumping knuckles.
  • That it originated with the Wonder Twins, minor characters in the 1970s Hanna-Barbera superhero cartoon The Superfriends, who touched knuckles and cried "Wonder Twin powers, activate!” before morphing into animals or ice sculptures. 
  • That Deal or No Deal host Howie Mandel reportedly adopted the gesture as a friendly way to avoid his contestants' germs.
  • That fist bumping first appeared in America in the 1940s, as biker gangs were becoming popular in southwestern areas of the United States. Motorcyclists sitting next to each other at traffic lights would be unable to perform a proper handshake, due to riding stance, so a quick bump of closed fists was an easier way to greet a fellow rider at a stop. 
  • That the first documented instance of the fist bump occurred among ancient Greek charioteers as a friendly greeting after finishing a race.

Btw: In the US the third Thursday in April every year is national High-Five Day. That was 17 April, oh well, there's always next year.

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