1Solenne San Jose
In 2012, a woman named Solenne San Jose in France accidentally received a phone bill of €11,721,000,000,000,000. This was 5000 times the GDP of France at the time. It took several days of wrangling before the phone company finally admitted it was a mistake and she owed just €117.21. They let her off.
2. Benjamin Franklin was a slave owner for much of his life. But after a friend took him to visit a school for black children, he wrote that African ignorance was not inherently natural but came from a lack of education, slavery, and negative environments and then petitioned Congress to end slavery.
3. A Chinese newspaper was convinced and cited ‘The Onion’ which named the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as the Sexiest Man Alive for 2012 without realizing it was a joke.
4. A politician and rabid abolitionist named Cassius M. Clay was once shot during a debate. He proceeded to chase down his assassin, stabbing him and throwing him off an embankment. He later fended off 6 men, even though they had guns and he only had a bowie knife. He was a candidate to be Lincoln's Vice President.
5. In 1666, the entire English village of Eyam, when contaminated with the bubonic plague, agreed to quarantine itself, essentially sentencing themselves to death, instead of fleeing to other villages. They did it to stop the disease from spreading. Some 260 villagers died.
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British writer C.S. Lewis nominated J.R.R. Tolkien for the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was rejected on the grounds that his writing "has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality."
7. Witches in parts of medieval Europe were weighed. A witch had to be almost weightless to fly on a broom. Nobody was found guilty of witchcraft at the weigh house in Oudewater.
8. NASA has confirmed that the earth is greener than it was 20 years ago due to China's and India's heavy investments in re-plantation.
9. Because a large number of black males are unable to shave without severe irritation, Domino's was found in violation of the 1991 Civil Rights Act by requiring all their employees to be cleanly-shaven.
10. The Black Death led to a sharp decline in the available workforce in England and Wales. Vagrancy laws criminalized unemployed people who could work but chose not to. People who were too sick or old to work had to obtain beggar's licenses.
11Laurence C. Jones
In 1918, a black man named Laurence C. Jones survived a lynching attempt from a white mob by convincing them of his passion to educate black kids. The mob ended up collecting money for his cause.
12. An Austrian serial killer named Jack Unterweger murdered an 18-year-old girl and got a life sentence. He then became an author and campaigned to get himself released after just 15 years. He then became a reporter, reporting on his own crimes as he proceeded to kill at least 9 more people.
13. Spiders can use earth’s electric field to fly “hundreds of miles.” They have been found 2.5 miles up in the air, and 1,000 miles out in the sea.
14. Chick-fil-A makes more per restaurant than McDonald's, Starbucks and Subway combined and it's closed on sundays.
15. A European fungus that accidentally spread to North America in 2006, has caused bat populations across the US and Canada to plummet by over 90%. Formerly very common bat species now face extinction, having already almost entirely disappeared over the Northeastern US and Eastern Canada.
The reason why the majority of police uniforms in the U.S. are blue is a result of the civil war. After the war had ended, there was a surplus of blue uniforms that got repurposed for police officers. The color became associated with policing.
17. A 48-year-old man named John Hamilton in Ohio was arrested because he would not stop cutting the grass at the local public park. The grass was over 12 inches long, so he decided to cut it. He claimed he was just trying to save the city some money.
18. The Haya people of Tanzania have been forging steel for over 2000 years. Investigation of their land led to the discovery of ancient furnaces that were then carbon dated and found to be around 2000 years old.
19. Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos went missing in 2004 and 2003, respectively, under similar circumstances in Naples, Florida. Both men were last seen being arrested by Steve Calkins, who claims he changed his mind about both arrests and let them go.
20. The slogan "Don't Mess with Texas" began as an anti-littering campaign in 1985 targeted at "bubbas in pickup trucks" who littered beer cans out of their vehicles and ordinary Texans who believed that littering was a "God-given right."
The first SMS text message ever sent was on December 3, 1992. It was sent by a 22-year-old test engineer from his computer to a phone. The message simply read "Merry Christmas."
22. In 1569, a Dutchman named Dirk Willems was jailed for his devotion to being an Anabaptist. He escaped from prison but when the guard pursuing him fell through the ice, Willems turned around to save the guard. He was then recaptured, tortured, and killed.
23. Surgically cropping a dog's ears or docking its tail can artificially alter the way dogs communicate with other dogs and humans. These procedures can have a significant impact on how dogs communicate and interact for the rest of their lives.
24. A woman escaped a serial killer (David Parker Ray) who’d held her captive for 3 days, by waiting until he had left for work, then used a key an accomplice had left behind to unlock her chains. She then fought the accomplice, stabbing them with an ice-pick, before running out. It led to the killer's arrest.
25. France has a law allowing colleagues to gift days off for parents of seriously ill children.