Ask Mr Brain . . . all will be explained

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 November, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 November, 2000, 12:00am

What is a sombrero?

A sombrero is a hat that originates from the 15th century. It is usually made out of straw or felt.

The hat has a very wide brim of up to 60 centimetres and a high crown which helps to shade the wearer from the sun especially in the southwestern United States and Mexico.

'Sombrero' comes from the word sombra, which means shade in Spanish.

The hat was worn by men with different materials distinguishing gentlemen from peasants.

Gentlemen usually wore tan, white or grey felt sombreros while the peasants wore straw ones.

American ranchers adopted the hat and modified it into the modern cowboy hat.

Is there such a thing as the 'Kennedy Family curse'?

The number of tragedies that the Kennedy family - which include United States president John F. Kennedy and his brother senator Robert Kennedy - have faced, have led some people to believe that the family is cursed.

Many generations of the Kennedy family are famous for their active involvement in American political life.

Arguably the most well known of all the Kennedys is John F. Kennedy, who became the 35th president of the US at age 43, the youngest the country had known.

He was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

In 1968, his brother Robert Kennedy was also assassinated.

Most recently, his son John F. Kennedy Jnr was killed in a plane that crashed off the coast of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts in 1999.

Other members of the family have been accused of rape, drug- taking and reckless driving.

What is infanticide?

Infanticide is the killing of newborn babies.

In the past, it was considered a method of birth control and a way of getting rid of weak, deformed or unwanted children.

The practice has a long history in human societies.

It is believed to have been common in the ancient cultures of Greece, Rome, China and India. It was practised in Europe until the 19th century.

The reasons behind infanticide included spacing out the arrival of children, fertility control, elimination of illegitimate, deformed, orphaned, twin children or for gender preferences.

In some societies, boy children are preferred over girls because they have a higher status.

In the modern era of social and medical development, infanticide is considered unacceptable in many societies.