Random #246 – 50 Wonderful Random Facts

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1Douglas Hegdahl

A quiet American POW named Douglas Hegdahl was nicknamed "The Incredibly Stupid One" by his Vietnamese captors. Upon his return to the US, he provided the names of over 200 prisoners of war, which he had memorized to the tune of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”


2. In 2019, a hipster complained to MIT Technology Review for using his picture to imply all hipsters look the same. They end up discovering that the picture was of an entirely different hipster.


3. In November of 1999, Kevin Smith attended a protest against his own movie: "Dogma." He even made it onto the local news, when the on-the-scene reporter asked him (not knowing it was him) his thoughts on the movie. He responded: "I don't know, but I've been told, 'not good.'"


4. Scientists developed an injection containing nanoparticles back in 2019 which when administered into the eye converts infrared into visible light, giving the host night vision for up to 10 weeks.


5. Although less talked about, the trauma of unexpectedly getting fired is very similar to the trauma of being left by a loved one.


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6IKEA Heights

A filmmaker shot a soap opera web series called IKEA Heights entirely inside a Burbank, California IKEA store without their permission. The creator of the show noticed that the well-lit sets and difficulty in getting the attention of employees made it an ideal location to film a show.


7. Toronto has around 90 fake houses (they look real on the outside) which contain transformers that convert raw, high voltage electricity to a voltage low enough to distribute throughout the city.


8. Actor Johnny Knoxville turned down a spot on SNL in the beginning of his acting career. SNL saw a demo tape of his show Jackass and offered him a spot on the show. However, he turned it down “because he wanted to work with his friends and have full control of his work.”


9. There is a cave in Romania that had been sealed off from the outside world for 5.5 million years and scientists have discovered dozens of unique lifeforms thriving in the poisonous gases and water.


10. American poet Dorothy Parker gave her estate to Martin Luther King when she died. After he was killed, her estate was bequeathed to the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People). After many years of contestation, during which her ashes were kept in a filing cabinet, she now resides at NAACP headquarters as a Defender of Human and Civil Rights.


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11Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro was obsessed with ice cream, once consuming 18 scoops in one sitting. His love for ice cream inspired him to implement a fully-fledged dairy industry in Cuba and he even opened his own ice cream parlor.


12. In 1986, St. George's Place in Glasgow was renamed Nelson Mandela Place. It was the address of the South African consulate, forcing them to use the name of their most famous political prisoner on all correspondence.


13. In Taiwan, every receipt for every store in the country is also a ticket to a government-run lottery with top prizes worth up to US$300,000.


14. If you are being questioned by authorities in the US and you choose to remain silent in response to a specific question, that silence may itself be construed as evidence of guilt, unless you specifically state that you're invoking your right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment.


15. In 1916, soldiers with a femur fracture had an 80% chance of dying. The introduction of the Thomas Splint reversed this statistic, giving soldiers with the same injury an 80% survival rate by 1917.


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16Slow TV

Slow TV is a very long coverage of mundane, ordinary events, which is huge in Norway. The national broadcaster NRK has regularly shown programs such as a 376 hr boat voyage, 60 hrs of choirs singing, and 12 hrs of knitting. Shorter shows include a lecture on Norway's past 200 years in 200 minutes.


17. Many Chinese soldiers that came into contact with protestors at Tiananmen Square refused to open fire on civilians. One official even refused to obey orders by pretending he didn't receive any messages. There was even infighting between the various units over violence against civilians.


18. Heather Donahue brought a knife with her when filming the "Blair Witch Project" because she was afraid it was a snuff film. All of her friends and family urged her not to work on it.


19. While Jeff Bezos was a theoretical physics student at Princeton, he was struggling with a difficult math problem. He brought it to one of his friends, who solved it just by looking at it. After that, he realized he was not going to be a good theoretical physicist, and quit the major.


20. There was a mysterious disease that existed in Guam. It was the leading cause of adult death between 1945 and 1956. Fruit bats were part of the local diet at the time and became extinct as a result of overhunting. A decline in fruit bat consumption led to a decline in the incidence of the disease.


21Patrick Tadina

Patrick Tadina, a 30-year-old Army veteran was the longest continuously serving Ranger in Vietnam. Due to his complexion and small size he could often pass as Vietcong while wearing pajamas and sandals to get within feet of the enemy. He earned two silver stars and 10 bronze stars, 7 with valor.


22. Stephanie Kwolek, the inventor of Kevlar was working on finding a new, lightweight substitute for steel belting in automobile tires, on fears of a looming oil shortage and in anticipation of a market for lighter tires. What resulted was a new fiber five times stronger than steel by weight.


23. Maya Moore, the best women’s basketball player in the world, retired early to fight for criminal justice reform. She helped overturn a wrongly convicted man who served 22 years of a 50-year sentence. His name is Jonathan Irons.


24. In the USA, you can just un-adopt children at any point if you don't want them anymore.


25. With every bottle of Laphroaig Whisky, you are entitled to a lifetime lease on a plot of land in Scotland (1ft squared).

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