50 Random Facts List #231

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1Mid-Air Surgery

In 1995, two doctors saved a woman’s life on an airplane by performing mid-air surgery on her internal injuries sustained from a previous accident with a coat hanger and silverware. They also used cognac to sterilize the equipment. It was on a flight from Hong Kong to London. They couldn’t land for help, as the increase in air pressure could have killed her.


2. In 2003, a woman found a stolen painting (worth $1 million) in the trash on an NYC curb. She felt it “had power” and took it without knowing its origin or value. She spent 4 years researching it and discovered that it had been stolen in 1987. She got a $15,000 reward plus a percentage of its $1,049,000 sale price.


3. In 1944, during World War 2, an Australian soldier named Robert Kerr McLaren removed his own appendix in the middle of a Philippine jungle without any anesthetic and with only the use of a mirror and an ordinary knife. The operation took 4 hours and he stitched himself up with jungle fiber.


4. Actor Adam Devine, who plays Adam Demamp on Workaholics, was hit by a cement truck at age 11, and both his legs were completely mangled. To pass time while recovering, he’d call radio DJ’s and impersonate celebrities, which is how he discovered his love for comedy.


5. In 1963, Alweg (known for Disneyland’s Monorail) offered to fund/build a monorail transit system throughout Los Angeles County at no cost to county taxpayers. Instead, L.A. County authorities killed off the project due to being pressured from Standard Oil of California and General Motors.


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6Released Lobsters

Two Buddhists who bought £5,000 worth of live crabs and lobsters, and released them into the English Channel in 2015 as part of a religious ceremony and earning good karma, were fined £15,000 for ‘untold damage’ they caused to the environment by introducing non-native species.


7. Finland has planted 150 million trees per year for decades. For a small nation of 5.5 million people, that's 27 trees per person. If the entire European Union were to do the same, there would be nearly 14 billion trees planted every year in the EU.


8. There are more people who have learned English as a second language than there are native speakers.


9. In 2002, an English milkman named Steve Leech was doing his rounds when he saw a shop on fire. He used 320 pints of milk to put out the fire, saving 7 other stores. He was named and awarded the title of “Hero Milkman of the Millennium.”


10. A man in New Hampshire in the 1830s accused his church of murdering his wife and had his grievance carved into her gravestone. It is about 150 words long, very specific, and gives names and events leading to her death.


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11Steven Spielberg

Steven Spielberg, while filming Raiders of the Lost Ark in Tunisia, avoided dysentery that afflicted Harrison Ford and most of his cast and crew. Spielberg’s secret was a suitcase full of SpaghettiOs which he brought with him on the shoot.


12. HMOs are a type of sugar found only in human breast milk. They are not digestible by the infant child. Instead, they feed the ‘good’ intestinal bacteria, thereby increasing the health of the infant's intestinal microbiome.


13. In 2005, a suicidal man named Juan Manuel Álvarez in Glendale, California parked his car in front of a commuter train. The train derailed and collided with two additional trains resulting in over 100 casualties. The man survived and was sentenced to life without parole.


14. The city of Liverpool in the UK has successfully boycotted News Corp’s “The Sun” newspaper for 30 years after proven false and sensationalized reporting of the city’s Hillsborough stadium disaster.


15. In 2018, it was discovered that a hacker broke into people’s routers (100,000 of them) and patched their vulnerabilities up so that they couldn’t be abused by other hackers.


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16Breaking Home Ties

In 2006, a Norman Rockwell painting was discovered in a secret compartment inside the walls of a cartoonist’s house. It’d been hidden there for 35 years. A cartoonist named Don Trachte had forged several paintings he owned to stop his ex-wife from getting them in a divorce settlement and had hidden the originals.


17. One reason why Greenland is considered the largest island and Australia is a continent, not an island (even though it fits the definition of an island) is because Greenland is a part of the North American plate and Australia has its own separate tectonic plate.


18. George Miller, a Medical Doctor at the time, was inspired to make Mad Max (1979) when he witnessed fights break out during a gas shortage in Australia. He assumed that in the future nations would not implement the infrastructure for renewable energy until it was too late and this could lead to a dystopia.


19. Monty Python sued ABC over their censorship of season 4 of their show. ABC had cut punch lines and entire characters. The judge and jury watched two versions of a season 4 episode; a BBC one they laughed at, and an edited ABC one which no one laughed at. The judge ruled in ABC’s favor.


20. Alkaline hydrolysis a.k.a. water cremation is the process of heating a body in a mix of water and potassium hydroxide down to its chemical components, which are then disposed of through the sewer, or as a fertilizer. This method takes 1/4 of the energy of heat cremation with less resulting pollutants.


21Black-Footed Ferret

In 1979, the Black-footed ferret was declared extinct. In 1981 the species was rediscovered when a dog in Meeteetse, Wyoming brought a dead ferret home. A small population was found and today the Black-footed ferret is making a comeback.


22. In 1983, the citizens of 15 areas in and around Dallas voted to impose a 1% sales tax on themselves in order to fund the creation of the Dallas Area Rapid Transit. It is now the longest light rail network in the USA.


23. Mozart did not attend his father’s funeral, but a week later threw a lavish ceremony for his deceased pet starling complete with a procession, hymns, and a personal poem.


24. Author Tom Clancy died in 2013 but his name is still used on new novels written by ghostwriters.


25. Pope Clement VII personally approved Nicolaus Copernicus’s theory that the Earth revolves around the Sun in 1533, 99 years before Galileo Galilei’s heresy trial for similar ideas.

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