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FASCINATING FACTS: 50 RANDOM FACTS TO KEEP YOU IN THE KNOW

1.  Macaulay Culkin


After an internet vote for a new middle name, Macaulay Culkin legally changed his name to Macaulay Macaulay Culkin Culkin.


2. Bees don’t buzz during an eclipse – Using tiny microphones suspended among flowers, researchers recorded the buzzing of bees during the 2017 North American eclipse. The bees were active and noisy right up to the last moments before totality. As totality hit, the bees all went silent in unison.


3. Despite it being common practice for casinos to ban card counters, a 1979 New Jersey Supreme Court decision banned all Atlantic City casinos from doing so, making them the only state in America where a casino is forbidden from throwing out, skilled blackjack players.


4. Marcus Terentius Varro was a Roman scholar who predicted microbiology over 2000 years ago, writing “there are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, but which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and cause serious diseases.”


5. In 1941, when a General asked Winston Churchill for more men to man Antiaircraft guns, Churchill replied: “No, I can’t spare any men, you’ll have to use women.” Mary Churchill (at the age of 18), Winston Churchill’s youngest daughter was among the first to join and rose to the rank of Junior Commander in 1944.

 


6.  Dead Peasant Insurance


Walmart used to take out life insurance policies on their employees and keep the payouts when they died, a practice colloquially known as “Dead Peasant Insurance.”


7. The opening track to Slipknot’s album “Iowa” titled “515” wasn’t just random screaming. Sid Wilson was having an emotional breakdown in the studio because he wasn’t able to make it home to tell his grandfather goodbye before he died.


8. At the premiere of the Good Omens TV series, a front-row seat was left empty in tribute to Terry Pratchett. His trademark scarf and hat were placed on it, and there was a bag of popcorn. Neil Gaiman said that Terry wanted to sit next to him and eat popcorn if an Omens movie ever happened.


9. The International Potato Center has successfully grown potatoes in a simulated Mars environment. They grew the plants in a CubeSat which mimicked the Martian air pressure and atmosphere and used saline desert soils analogous to Martian soils as the growing medium.


10. James Earl Jones demanded David Prowse receive sole credit for portraying Darth Vader believing that his voice was ‘just special effects.’


11.  Tina Turner


Tina Turner was diagnosed with kidney failure after she opted to take homeopathic remedies instead of high blood pressure medication, something she now regrets. She was considering an assisted suicide until her current husband donated a kidney to her, saving her life.


12. After arresting a man named Jack Gilbert Graham for blowing up an airplane federal agents learned that it was not in fact a federal crime to blow up an airplane. Colorado instead charged the man for the single murder of his mother, a passenger on the plane.


13. The motto, “In God We Trust,” is not the original motto of the United States. During the Cold War, it was changed from “E Pluribus Unum” (“from many, one”) in an effort to differentiate the United States from atheistic communism.


14. The Navajo language was once in danger of losing a lot of speakers, but the Navajo nation set up programs to teach the language in many bilingual schools. Now there are even institutes, community colleges, and technical universities with classes in the Navajo language.


15. Coco was originally about a Mexican-American boy coping with the death of his mother, learning to let her go and move on with his life. As the movie developed, Pixar realized that this is the opposite of what Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is about.


16.  Six Flags Over Texas


When the Six Flags Over Texas theme park opened in 1961, it had a section dedicated to the Confederacy where actors would hunt through the crowd for Union “spies” and “execute” them by firing squad, and where boys and girls could sign up to defend the South as soldiers and nurses.


17. Glitterex, one of the top glitter manufacturers in the USA cannot name their biggest client since the client doesn’t want it known they use glitter. When a manager was asked if they could name them in a New York Times interview they instantly replied, “No, I absolutely know that I can’t.”


18. When cockroach poisons claim to kill the whole nest, it’s not because roaches share food with others. Roaches are cannibals and a single dose of poison can often be eaten many times and still be deadly.


19. In 1848, two slaves, Ellen and William Craft escaped slavery by traveling openly from Macon, Georgia to Boston. Ellen, who was light-skinned, dressed as a man with a sling to hide the fact that she could not write and passed as William’s slave owner. Eventually, they fled to Liverpool, England.


20. Americans are now tipping more money, and for more services, than ever before. It’s a phenomenon called “Tip Creep” where social pressure encourages tipping for counter-service interactions where a tip was previously never given.


21.  ForgetMeNot


There is a hero in the X-Men named ForgetMeNot who’s main power is that nobody is able to remember he exists.


22. The dictionary isn’t as much an instruction guide to the English language, as it is a record of how people are using it. Words aren’t added because they’re OK to use, but because a lot of people have been using them.


23. The MIT has developed a camera that uses terahertz radiation to read closed books. This is a fascinating breakthrough that could mean reading dated and delicate documents such as historic manuscripts without touching or opening them.


24. Casualty or ‘Mercy’ dogs were vital in World War 1. They carried supplies so wounded soldiers could help themselves to supplies and tend to their own wounds, whilst other more gravely wounded soldiers would seek the company of a Mercy dog to wait with them whilst they died.


25. It took E. B. White 17 takes to read the death scene of Charlotte, as he recorded the audio version of his book Charlotte’s Web. He is said to have walked outside, come back in, and start crying again when he got to that moment, “a grown man crying over the death of an imaginary insect.”

 


26.  Anderson Cooper


In 2016, news anchor Anderson Cooper donated bulletproof vests to every K9 unit in the Virginia Police Department after finding out that a police dog was shot and killed during a shootout.


27. Pringles are technically not potato chips. They are molded out of powdered potato, wheat, and other additives.


28. Before a key battle in Alexander the Great’s campaign in Persia, the Persian king offered Alexander generous terms for peace. One of Alexander’s generals is said to have remarked: “I would accept the terms, if I were you”. Alexander responded: “So would I, if I were you”. He won.


29. In the 90s, Tina Turner left America and started living in Switzerland. She now is a Swiss citizen, lives permanently in a village in the Alps, and has stated: “I could not imagine a better place to live.”


30. Latchkey incontinence is the phenomenon where the closer that one gets to the restroom, the more urgently one has to use the restroom.


31.  Dogs


A study concluded that when humans forbid dogs to eat foods, dogs are 4 times more likely to steal the food in the dark when they think humans can’t spot them. Dogs based their stealing strategies on their belief that humans can’t see in low light conditions.


32. Charles Vance Millar, a rich Canadian financier, made his will one giant practical joke. In it, he left three men who hated one another a joint lifetime tenancy in a villa, some protestant ministers $700,000 in Catholic beer stock, and anti-horse racing advocates $25,000 in a Jockey club.


33. Before the advent of reliable and affordable alarm clocks, British and Irish workers were woken up by human alarm clocks, who made sure they could get to work on time. The knocker-up used a baton to knock on clients’ doors or a long and light stick to reach windows on higher floors.


34. Walt Disney gave his housekeeper, Thelma Pearl Howard, stocks of the company during holidays and birthdays every year, instead of cash. The stocks were valued very little at the time, but by the time she was in her 70s, they were worth $9 million.


35. In the movie “Home Alone” the producers thought it would be too mean to use a real girl for the pic of Buzz’s unattractive girlfriend so they used the art director’s son.


36.  Hundred Flowers Campaign


As part of the “Hundred Flowers Campaign” of 1956, China allowed and encouraged people to speak freely and openly express their opinions about the communist regime. A year later the campaign was withdrawn and the Chinese government imprisoned those who spoke critically about them.


37. Diphenhydramine is marketed as both Benadryl (an allergy pill with a side of effect of making on sleepy) and also Sominex (a sleeping pill with the side effect of helping one’s allergies).


38. In 2011, billionaire Oprah Winfrey found out she has a sister she never knew existed and now takes care of her financially because Oprah was so impressed by her sister’s loyalty. She spent 4 years trying to contact Oprah with no luck and never once tried to sell the story to the press.


39. Hockey goalie Clint Malarchuk’s throat got slashed by a skate during a live NHL game. The injury was so bad that 11 fans fainted, two people got heart attack and at least 3 players vomited on the ice. The wound was so bad that it needed 300 stitches. Clint was back on the ice just a week later.


40. In 1930, a lawyer named TM Zink tried to leave $50,000 in trust to build a Womanless library. “No Woman Admitted” signs were to be posted at each entrance and no works by women were to be allowed on the premises. His family successfully challenged his will after his death, and the plans were scrapped.


41.  Song Ci


The first recorded use of Forensic Entomology was by Chinese detective in 1200s AD. In a murder investigation in a village, detective Song Ci put every scythe in the village for inspection and found the culprit when flies – attracted to trace amounts of blood- kept landing on his scythe.


42. The VLC media player uses a traffic cone for its icon because the students who created it drunkenly started a traffic cone collection.


43. The reason Phoenix can exist in the middle of the desert is because in 1868, Jack Swilling discovered the ruins of a 27,000 square miles canal system built by the Hohokam. He restarted the canals and today that infrastructure, with modern expansions, waters the city of over a million in the hot desert.


44. The dragonfly is one of the most skilled predators on the planet, being absolutely lethal to other insects, missing only one prey in twenty.


45. When it snowed for the first recorded time in Miami in 1977, a meteorologist initially thought it was a coke-drop that had gone wrong, until realizing that the flakes were snow.


46.  Macadamia Nuts


70% of the world’s Macadamia Nuts came from one tree in Australia. All of Hawaii’s macadamias share distinctive markers with a tiny wild grouping of trees in Gympie, suggesting that all of the state’s modern crops were likely cloned out of a single Australian tree.


47. Frank Sinatra regularly tipped waiters, busboys, and chefs $100-200 each. However, he had a fearsome temper in restaurants. He would throw food against the wall if he didn’t like how it was prepared and would throw drinks if he didn’t like how he was treated.


48. Mad honey which is cultivated in Turkey is made from the nectar of rhododendron flowers. Small doses cause hallucinations, large doses bring seizures and death. It is used as medicine by Turkish villagers, who drink it in milk with breakfast and believe it increases sexual potency.


49. When Sir Robert Watson-Watt, the inventor of the RADAR was caught speeding with a RADAR gun, he reportedly said “My God, if I’d known what they were going to do with it, I’d have never have invented it!”


50. Mel Brooks financed and produced the movie The Elephant Man, but didn’t take any credit because he didn’t want audiences mistaking it for a comedy.

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