Myth Trivia: A Trump idiom, quirky geography and horned horses

How many countries can be found between Norway and North Korea? What is Scotland's National animal? Donald Trump and Scottish idioms? What does it all have to do with each other?

Unicorns (Wikimedia), Donald Trump (The Apprentice) and Nordic Maps

CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 30, 2016 – Now that the political silly season is in full swing, we might as well include a bit of trivia that relates to Donald Trump.

1 – Origin of the term “You’re fired”: You may recall that during the peak of the Donald’s television show “The Apprentice” the New York billionaire and Republican presidential candidate attempted to trademark his popular catchphrase “You’re fired.”

Trump was unsuccessful. Probably because the roots of the expression go back considerably further than Mr. T’s usage.

Long ago when Scottish clans decided they needed to rid themselves of unsavory or unwanted members they took a more humane approach than outright killing them. Rather they would burn down their houses, thus leaving them homeless.

As a result, the expression that evolved was “to get fired.”

Since Trump is a businessman, there is a similar version that can be carried over to the corporate world. National Cash Register (NCR) founder John Henry Patterson was notorious for dismissing employees for trivial reasons in an effort to maintain control and deflate their self-confidence.

In true George Steinbrenner-style, much like the former owner of the New York Yankees, Patterson would then quickly rehire his released employees.

So well known for his abusive, confrontational manners, the story goes that Patterson once dismissed one of his executives while he was en route back from visiting a client. When the executive arrived at NCR headquarters, he discovered his desk had been thrown out on the lawn before bursting into flames.

In other words, “He was fired.”

As an aside, Patterson was a control freak as well as a food and fitness fanatic. His employees were required to be weighed every six months.

This, however, has nothing to do with the expression “Weigh of life” or “I did it my weigh.”

Myth Trivia: Carrots, twist ties and Oxford University

2 – Scotland’s national animal: It’s difficult to argue with the concept that a country’s national animal should represent the defining qualities of the nation it represents.

The American bald eagle has long been the animal symbol for the United States, even though Benjamin Franklin is said to have desired it be a turkey instead. Given the contemporary English meaning of “turkey” that probably was not a good choice.

Scotland’s national animal is not only mystical and powerful, but it is also mythical…or so most of us believe. Scots are a hardy culture. They are practical and reserved, both common traits of people who live in rugged northern climates. Scottish culture is also rich in superstitions, myths and legends, so it should come as no surprise that their national animal is none other than the unicorn.

Unicorns were worshiped by the ancient Babylonians, and there are written descriptions of them as early as the first century AD. They are regarded as rare and precious as well as a lunar symbol. It is interesting that unicorns have different characteristics based upon the culture that describes them.

Among a unicorn’s attributes are innocence, purity, boldness, pride, healing powers, joy, intelligence, virility and nurturing powers.

It is indisputable that art is filled with images of unicorns despite the fact that they are regarded as fictitious by most people. Others, however, believe that there are so many historical references to unicorns over the centuries that perhaps at some point in time they truly did exist. The argument being, if dinosaurs once roamed the planet, then why not a horse with a single horn?

For a country as fierce and proud as Scotland, which has long fought for independence, the unicorn is justifiably a heraldic symbol of national pride.

Myth Trivia: The Panama Canal, Canada and off with their heads

3 – Another geographical oddity: Time to break out your globe or your world atlas again. How many countries separate Finland and North Korea?

If you said one, you win the prize. Yep, the only country between Finland and North Korea is Russia. Just barely, but then who is counting?

Ahh, but here’s another tidbit of geographical quirk. Norway also has Russia between its border and North Korea, even though it also touches Finland and Sweden.

Most of us think of Norway as being west of Sweden and Finland, but if you look at the northernmost part of the country, which is commonly referred to as Lapland, you can see that Norway arcs across both of its Scandinavian neighbors.

Not an earthshaking fact you understand, but it might be worth a beer or two at your favorite watering hole.

Myth Trivia: The Panama Canal, Canada and off with their heads

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of the Magellan Travel Club (
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News
Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod

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