Random #258 – 50 Lesser Known Random Facts

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1Ernest Hemingway

In 1954, Ernest Hemingway survived two plane crashes in two days. During one of the crashes, he was presumed dead for almost 24 hours until he was spotted coming out of the jungle carrying bananas and a bottle of gin.


2. Captain America #1, with its iconic cover of Cap punching Hitler, came out a year before the US entered World War 2. At the time most people did not support war with Germany, so Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, both Jews, received death threats. However, the Mayor of New York was a fan and pledged protection.


3. Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy solved his own murder case. He was poisoned with a cup of tea in a London hotel. Working with Scotland Yard detectives, as he lay dying, he traced the lethal substance to a former comrade in the Russian secret service.


4. A geologist named Eugene Shoemaker wanted to go to the moon in the mid-1900s. He failed the medical exam to go to the moon, but he still helped train astronauts on Apollo 11, 12, 13. After dying in a car crash, his ashes made it to the moon. To this day they are still there.


5. 2 donkeys that have been together for 10 years at a zoo in Poland were separated after a local politician and parents complained about them mating in front of children. Experts weighed in and a petition to rejoin them got 7,000 signatures so the zoo put them back together.


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6Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln once reviewed 303 death warrants for Santee Dakota Natives convicted of killing farmers. He approved 39. The Governor of Minnesota then told Lincoln he should have approved all of them for more support in the 1864 election. Lincoln responded with "I could not afford to hang men for votes."


7. Astronaut Chris Hadfield’s wife kept hanging up on his phone calls from the ISS thinking he was a telemarketer. The 3-second delay made her think no one was on the other side of the line when she’d answer. NASA then gave her the ISS’s phone number so her phone read “SPACE” each time he called.


8. Engineers have been able to increase the damage resistance of an airplane's black box by 60 times thanks to studying the anatomy of a woodpecker's skull.


9. Children's author Roald Dahl singlehandedly took on six German bombers in World War 2, developed a medical shunt that saved 3,000 childrens' lives, and was partially the inspiration for James Bond.


10. IKEA has complete ownership over their supply chain of products, even growing their own wood (forest ownership), and uses approximately 1% of all lumber usage globally.


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11Welsh child

For every child born or adopted in Wales, the Welsh government will plant a native Welsh broadleaf tree. The scheme is called Plant! – the Welsh word for children.


12. Cats in Kazan, Russia were so good at catching mice, they were shipped to St. Petersburg in 1745 to deal with a rodent infestation. A statue dedicated to the cats can be found in Kazan today.


13. Voting is mandatory in Belgium. Citizens are automatically registered in the electoral polls and more than 90% of the eligible population takes part in the voting process since you risk a fine if you do not vote either in person or by proxy.


14. According to a study's preliminary results, when shopping, consumers respond rationally for the first 23 minutes, then they begin to think with the emotional part of their brain. After 40 minutes, the brain becomes tired and effectively shuts down, ceasing to form rational thoughts altogether.


15. In 1820, Thomas Jefferson cut and pasted numerous sections from the New Testament to make his own Bible. Jefferson's condensed composition excludes all "miracles" of Jesus and most mentions of the "supernatural". It's called The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.


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16Punk IPA

In 2016, an employee at brewing company Brewdog printed "Mother F**cker Day" on 200,000 cans of their Punk IPA, after saying the company was not punk enough anymore, all of which had to be recalled. The Company made him an employee of the month.


17. Vincent Van Gogh was named after his dead older brother, who died in infancy exactly a year before he was born. It’s been suggested that being given the same name might have had a deep psychological impact on him and influenced his art.


18. Camels once existed in Canada's far north. The Yukon giant camel was a 3.5 million-year-old ancestor of the living domestic camel found today in the deserts of Asia and Africa.


19. Actor, director, and producer Orson Welles refused admission into Harvard at the age of 16 so that he could travel. When he landed in Dublin he convinced everyone that he was a famous Broadway star and began producing plays. When he grew bored of the farce, he went to North Africa to draw pictures.


20. Child labor in the United States was largely ended by a photographer named Lewis Wickes Hine. He took photos of child laborers at eye level to humanize and personalize each child. He captured nearly identical pictures across the country to show lawmakers this was a systemic problem.


21Fred Ott’s Sneeze

Thomas Edison produced a film called Fred Ott’s Sneeze, a 5-second film where Fred Ott, one of Edison’s assistants, sneezes. It is the oldest surviving film with copyright.


22. During the 1965-66 Indonesian Communist purge, over 500,000 to 1 million communists were killed, and the US played a significant role in the killings, supplying economic, technical, and military aid to the Indonesian military when the killings began and providing “kill lists.”


23. Cats often avoid consuming food or water from sides of their bowls to prevent 'whisker fatigue.' Whiskers brushing against a bowl can trigger sensory overload, causing them pain and stress whenever eating or drinking.


24. Elephants like to paint and play music. Some paintings have been compared to abstract expressionists like Jackson Pollock and have sold for $25,000. Other elephants have been taught to play in an orchestra and reportedly have a strong sense of rhythm and enjoy improvisation.


25. The guitar in Lil Nas X Old Town road was sampled from Nine Inch Nails. Nine Inch Nails ended up winning a country music award because of this.

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