50 Random Facts List #216

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TVs emit a tone during ad breaks that are inaudible to humans but that smartphones are listening for. Now corporate entities can link the TV and phone as belonging to the same person. It means government entities can play a tone through the TV and ping all the phones in the room, identifying the whole group.

2. After Oprah's famous "You get a car" episode, where she gave away 276 cars at a total cost of $7.6 million, many of the recipients sent in complaints to the show as they had all been charged a $6,000-7,000 "gift tax."

3. In 2017, 70 students drank so much alcohol at a house party in Maryland that the air inside the house registered positive on a breathalyzer.

4. A Navajo blanket was appraised on PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow” for $500,000. After seeing the broadcast, a disabled man named Loren Krytzer realized that he had a similar blanket which had been sitting in his closet for 7 years. He took it to an auctioneer and its final bid was $1.5 million.

5. The song "Mr. Blue Sky" by the Electric Light Orchestra was found to be the happiest song ever using a formula made by studying songs from a period of 50 years.

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6John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth

When shooting Abraham Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth timed his shot so that the noise would be masked by the audience’s laughter. Being an actor, he knew the play Lincoln was watching by heart. Lincoln was laughing when he was shot.

7. There is a prequel to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" known as "Halloween is Grinch Night", which won the Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program in 1977.

8. In 2015, a 40,000-year-old bracelet was found in Siberia. It was made by an extinct human species called Denisovans. Homosapians did not produce bracelets of this technical sophistication until 10,000 years ago. It is one of the oldest pieces of jewelry ever discovered.

9. Before Japan surrendered to end World War 2, the US armed forces ordered over 1 million Purple Heart medals in anticipation of a difficult land invasion. That stock is still being used today.

10. Burt Reynolds was considered for the role of Michael Corleone but Brando said he would walk if they cast him. “He is the epitome of something that makes me want to throw up. He is the epitome of everything that is disgusting about the thespian, he worships at the temple of his own narcissism.”

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11Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator

There is a book sequel to "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", called "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator". It features space travel, Cold War politics, aliens, and Charlie's grandparents abusing drugs.

12. Ben Stiller came up with the idea for "Tropic Thunder" while working on the set of Steven Spielberg's World War 2 drama "Empire of the Sun" and seeing actors come back from "fake" Army boot camp and treating it like a real war experience.

13. Andy Kaufman demanded that his alter ego, Tony Clifton, a drunken, cigarette smoking lounge singer/insult comic, have guest appearances on Taxi with his own separate contract. After showing up to set with 2 prostitutes, Clifton was fired. A week later, Andy showed up as if nothing had happened.

14. Iron Maiden lead singer, Bruce Dickinson is considered a polymath by Intelligent Life magazine due to excelling in a wide variety of pursuits. He is a commercial pilot, presented shows on radio and TV, written novels, brews his own beer and was once ranked 7th in Great Britain for fencing.

15. An 11-year-old girl named Stella Bowles in Nova Scotia, when told she couldn't swim in her local river, initiated testing of the river for fecal contaminants. After the samples tested above allowable limits, three levels of government committed $15 million to install 600 septic tanks along the river.

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16Thor Christiansen

Thor Christiansen

Serial killer Thor Christiansen was only caught because his fifth would-be victim survived a shot to the head. She recognized him months later in a bar and reported him to police. Law enforcement then linked him with four other then-unsolved murders that had a similar MO.

17. In 2014, a Cockatoo celebrated its 100th birthday, it was also noticed by Queen Elizabeth II who sent a birthday card as is custom to 100-year-olds.

18. When Charles Dickens was 12 years old, his father was thrown into prison for debt. Charles was forced to leave school and work ten-hour days at a boot factory in order to help support his family. Later when he started writing, the poor conditions of the working class became a major theme in several of his works.

19. The distinctive nose of the Shinkansen 500 bullet train prevents sonic booms whenever it exits a tunnel and was discovered when scientists studied the shape of a kingfisher's beak to learn how it hit the water at high speed.

20. The French duo Daft Punk got their name from a negative review they received from MelodyMaker magazine for a trio they were in before. A journalist wrote that the band Darlin's music was "a daft punky thrash". They found it funny, creating one of the most influential music acts of the 90s and 00s.

21John Lennon

John Lennon

John Lennon tried to convince Paul McCartney to drill a hole in his skull as part of a practice called trepanning explaining “All you’d have to do is just bore a little hole in your skull and it lets the pressure off. Paul replied ‘ John, you try it and let me know how it goes.'”

22. In 1974, a chemical technician named Karen Silkwood died in a car crash after attempting to expose unethical things done at the nuclear power plant she worked in.

23. The first effective syphilis cure, called Salvarsan, was created in 1909. An arsenic-based drug, it operated on the same principle as chemotherapy: it poisoned syphilis before it poisoned you. Like chemo, it was very unpleasant, but a literal lifesaver.

24. When a friend wrote "KURT SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT" on a wall, Kurt Cobain assumed it was an anti-establishment slogan and wrote a hit song. Months later he found out his friend had been making fun of him. Kurt's girlfriend wore Teen Spirit, deodorant marketed to teenage girls.

25. Having standard showtimes for films was not common until 1960. Previously most films would just play on a loop, and people could enter at any time. Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho required that people watch from the beginning to the end and made showtimes more standard.

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