50 Random Facts List #169

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1Planned obsolescence

Planned obsolescence

Planned obsolescence is illegal in France. It is a crime to intentionally shorten the lifespan of a product with the aim of making customers replace it. In early 2018, French authorities used this law to investigate reports that Apple deliberately slowed down older iPhones via software updates.

2. Court dwarfs were often placed next to the king or queen during public appearances and ceremonies. This made the king or queen appeared larger in comparison, thereby visually enhancing their powerful position.

3. Most states in USA require car manufacturers to sell through the dealers. Even if a customer orders directly from the factory, the order must go through the dealer. This dealer distribution system adds around 30% to the price of the cars.

4. Premature babies, instead of full-term babies, are usually cast in movies as they look like a newborn yet meet the minimum 15-day-old requirement for them to “work”. Twins and triplets are preferred as the babies tend to be smaller, and filming hours can be prolonged.

5. When Roald Dahl attended school, the nearby Cadbury chocolate factory would occasionally send boxes of new chocolates to the school to be tested by students. It is believed that this likely inspired him in writing his third children's book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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6Thomas Brodie

Thomas Brodie

In 1951, during the Korean War, 650 British soldiers were being overwhelmed by 10,000 Chinese. When an American general named Robert H Soule asked for a status update, a British brigadier named Thomas Brodie responded: “things are a bit sticky down there.” No help was sent and almost all of the troops were killed because the general did not get the understatement.

7. The founders of Insulin sold the patent to a University for $3, which then gave pharmaceuticals the rights to manufacture Insulin without royalties and to improve the formula in order to make the drug better and accessible to as many diabetics as possible at the lowest cost possible.

8. Loopholes are the slits in castle walls that archers fired from, and that's why finding the loophole is finding a way to circumvent security measures in place.

9. In 2010, a 7-year-old girl named Stella Berndtsson drowned in icy water. Her body was found after 3½ hours and by a rescue helicopter she was taken to hospital. Her body temperature was 13°C/55.4°F. Despite this the doctors succeeded in saving Stella by warming her slowly. Stella made a remarkable recovery.

10. A lot of the world's best Scrabble players are Thai and cannot even speak English, despite them using English words. Players often memorize lists of words, but avoid learning their meaning, as understanding English is a disadvantage to them.

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11Au Clair de la Lune

Au Clair de la Lune

The first known recording of a human voice was made in 1860 but was only intended to show a sound wave visually, not to be played back. In 2008, it was optically scanned and converted to a sound file, revealing it to be a man singing "Au Clair de la Lune."

12. On the Mississippi River in the 1850s, the word "two" was often pronounced "twain." When leadsmen measured the depth of two fathoms, they shouted "mark twain!" The American writer Mark Twain, a former river pilot from Missouri, got his pen name from this phrase.

13. The chocolate midge is no bigger than the size of a pinhead. It is the only creature that can pollinate cacao trees, and therefore the production of chocolate is threatened by the collapse of the insect ecosystem.

14. People who look young for their age have a higher life expectancy than those who don't.

15. Ice cream, macaroni and cheese, French fries, and champagne were all popularized in or introduced to America by President Thomas Jefferson.

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16Ed Sullivan

Ed Sullivan

The Beatles would never have been seen on American TV but for the JFK assassination. CBS executives decided that America needed something light-hearted on the news to take the nation’s mind off the painful assassination and showed a brief clip. Ed Sullivan was unexpectedly watching.

17. Stalin hired people to edit photographs throughout his reign. People who became his enemy were removed from every photograph pictured with him. Sometimes, Stalin would even insert himself in photos at key moments in history or had technicians make him look taller in them.

18. Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska was instrumental in the release of the Pentagon Papers, using his seat on an obscure committee to force the Papers into Congressional record.

19. Ruth Coker Burks cared for hundreds of people dying of AIDS, abandoned by their families because of their "sin."

20. The non-profit Nurse-Family Partnership, which arranges for registered nurses to make regular home visits to first-time low-income or vulnerable mothers, reduced the number of babies or toddlers hospitalized for accidents by more than half and increased babies' IQ by 5 to 7 points.

21Annie Kopchovsky

Annie Kopchovsky

Annie Kopchovsky was the first woman to cycle around the world and only learned how to ride a bike two days prior to setting off. She ended up accomplishing the trip in 15 months and won $10,000 for the feat.

22. The founders of Ben & Jerry’s learned how to make ice cream by taking a $5 correspondence course offered by Penn State because one of them couldn’t get into medical school and the other couldn’t sell enough pottery to make a living.

23. Piggy banks are not actually named after pigs. They date back to the Middle Ages when a type of clay – called ‘pygg’ – was used to make pots that could store money.

24. Having power actually reduces a person's ability to empathize neurologically. When given power, a person's ability to adapt their behavior to the behaviors of other people diminishes, which explains why people are often mean to their subordinates.

25. Doctors, nurses and Catholic clergy were involved in stealing approximately 300,000 babies during the Franco era in Spain which started in the 1930s and continued up until the 1990s. Children were moved from parents deemed "undesirable" and placed with "approved" families. Birth mothers were told their baby had died.

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