Random #258 – 50 Lesser Known Random Facts

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26John Dunbar

The first-ever Ironman Triathlon was won by US Navy Communications Specialist Gordon Haller. The runner-up John Dunbar, a US Navy Seal, was winning after the second transition but lost his lead when he ran out of the water and his support crew started giving him beer instead.


27. The "cookies" Sesame Street's Cookie Monster eats are not real cookies, as the oils from them would damage the puppet. He instead eats painted rice cakes disguised as cookies.


28. Rapper Ol' Dirty Bastard's verse on the hit song "Ghetto Supastar" was the result of him showing up at the wrong studio, loving the song, and asking to be part of it.


29. Albert Battel was a German Army Lieutenant. He blocked Waffen SS troops from taking Jews from a Ghetto for execution and his Sargent threatened to shoot the SS if they tried. He then broke into the Ghetto with army trucks and evacuated 100 Jews into the protection of the German army.


30. The Wolf of Wall Street movie was funded by a fraudulent bond scheme run by Goldman Sachs employees and a Malaysian PM.


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31RMS Carpathia

The RMS Carpathia only heard the Titanic's distress call because Carpathia's wireless operator, Harold Cottam, was listening to his telegraph while getting into his pajamas, several minutes after his shift had ended. Had he signed off when he was supposed to, there may have been no rescue.


32. Baby hatches are places where mothers can safely and anonymously abandon their newborns (usually in hospitals or churches). In Germany, babies abandoned in this way are looked after for 8 weeks, during which time, the mother can 'reclaim' her child without legal repercussions.


33. In the middle ages, some people used to "clip" coins. Coins in medieval Europe were made of gold or silver. The purpose of clipping was to remove slivers of this material from the edge of the coin. Doing this enough times and they had enough metal for a new coin. If caught, the punishment was death.


34. In 1963, the first message sent on the Moscow–Washington hotline was the test phrase "THE QUICK BROWN FOX JUMPED OVER THE LAZY DOG'S BACK 1234567890". Later, the confused Russian translators responded, "What does it mean when your people say 'The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog'?"


35. The Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum in Malta which was accidentally discovered in 1902 is believed to predate the pyramids by up to 1000 years according to historians. It housed up to 7000 bodies of an unknown Neolithic civilization who mysteriously disappeared in 2500 B.C. without explanation.


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36Set

The word with the most meanings in English is the verb 'set', with 430 senses listed in the Second Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, published in 1989. The word commands the longest entry in the dictionary at 60,000 words or 326,000 characters.


37. Actress and pin-up girl Rita Hayworth's face was painted on several atomic bombs tested in the late 1940s without her authorization. When she found out she flew into a rage and held a press conference announcing she didn’t condone this.


38. Alfred Hitchcock used to play sadistic pranks on his coworkers. Once he had a bet with the prop guy to spend a night tied to the camera. The man agreed and had a drink with Alfred but Alfred put laxatives in his drink. When people came in the morning, he was found crying in his own poop puddle.


39. Princess Diana once shook hands with a man who had AIDS. This event helped in removing the public stigma around the disease.


40. Velcro was invented by a Swiss electrical engineer named George de Mestral after a hunting trip in the Alps in 1941. He took a close look at the burrs of burdock that stuck to his clothes and his dog’s fur and developed the technology for commercial use in the 1950s.


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41Waltzing Matilda

Australia has an unofficial national anthem named "Waltzing Matilda" which is basically a song about a hobo getting caught for grabbing a stray sheep and commits suicide in a nearby pond to avoid punishment. Then he haunts the pond.


42. The term ‘patient 0’ is based on a misunderstanding. One of the earliest recorded HIV patients was named ‘patient O’, standing for ‘patient OUT of California’. Readers and journalists then misinterpreted this letter as the numeral 0, leading to its wide usage today.


43. For most people, the pain from kidney stones is not from passing the stone. Rather, it's from the stone making its way from the kidney down the ureter towards the bladder, causing muscle spasms. Most stones pass from the bladder out of urine relatively pain-free.


44. Ferrari's famous "prancing horse" logo was coined because one of Enzo Ferrari's best friends gave him a necklace with a prancing horse just before taking off and then getting shot down in a World War 1 dogfight over the Isonzo Front.


45. Newspaper cleans windows better than microfiber rags and paper towels.


46Peter Kropotkin

Anarchist thinker Peter Kropotkin was a military officer turned geologist. In 1871, he explored the glacial deposits of Finland and Sweden. In 1873, he published a map and paper in which he showed that the existing maps entirely misrepresented the physical features of Asia.


47. "Wolf Tree" is the term used to describe trees that were not cut down during deforestation and left to grow in the new growth forests of New England.


48. Przewalski's horses are the only wild horses left in the world. The "wild" horses that abound in Australia and North America's western plains and East Coast barrier islands are actually feral domestic horses that escaped from ranches and farms and returned to the wild. 


49. The production of the movie "The Island of Dr. Moreau" was so insanely difficult that it inspired a documentary called “Lost Soul”. The director hated Val Kilmer so much that he said “Even if I was directing a film called The Life of Val Kilmer, I wouldn’t have that prick in it.”


50. Child actor Bobby Driscoll (Peter Pan and other Disney classics) is buried as an unknown vagrant in a mass grave on Hart Island (NYC) and was only identified after his mother, who thought he was still alive, matched his fingerprints to a burial record.

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