Random #263 – 50 Lesser Known Random Facts

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1The Pirate Bay

A US law firm set up honeypots on torrent-sharing site The Pirate Bay and then sued people who downloaded their torrents. The matter reached the FBI and the pirate site accepted to collaborate with the feds resulting in the crooked lawyers getting jail time.


2. In the American West of the 1800s, up to one in four Texan cowboys was African American. The number of Mexican cowboys was even greater.


3. Viggo Mortensen would not have taken the part of Aragorn in Lord Of The Rings had it not been for his 11-year-old son's enthusiasm for the books. He performed his own stunts insisting he used a real steel sword and he also purchased the two horses, whom he rode and bonded with over the duration of the films.


4. In August 1968 after being turned down by 19 other teams, the Atlanta Braves signed 62-year-old pitcher Satchel Paige so he could get his MLB pension. He needed only 158 days on an active roster to reach the five-year minimum required to receive his pension. He collected $250 a month.


5. In 2002, a woman named Solenne San Jose in France received a telephone bill of nearly 12 quadrillion euros. The phone company initially told her there was nothing they could do to amend the statement and offered to set up installments to pay off the bill. Eventually, they admitted their mistake and waived it all together.


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6Wasps

If wasps decide they don't like you they drop pheromones on you so that other wasps don't like you either.


7. When Upton Sinclair published his landmark 1906 work "The Jungle” about the lives of meatpacking factory workers, he hoped it would lead to worker protection reforms. Instead, it leads to sanitation reforms, as middle-class readers were horrified their meat came from somewhere so unsanitary.


8. The UK sits under 5 different air masses, creating unpredictable weather patterns and mimicking both tropical and polar climates. Although on the same latitude as Canada the UK often gets rain instead of snow throughout the year and humidity compared to that of rainforest in summer.


9. In 2007, American Astronaut Steven Swanson brought DVD copies of the show Firefly and its movie sequel Serenity to the ISS, where they remain permanently for the crew's entertainment.


10. American newspaper "the New York Post" was originally founded by Alexander Hamilton and was a respected publication. It wasn't until the 1970s when it became a tabloid.


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11Jairo Mora Sandoval

A 26-year-old man named Jairo Mora Sandoval dedicated his life to protecting leatherback sea turtle nests from poachers on the Moin beach in Costa Rica. He and his volunteers collected eggs and guarded them in a hatchery. On May 30, 2013, he was kidnapped and murdered.


12. The actual Yakuza of Japan played Yakuza 3 and praised it for its realism, only hating the frequency of the fighting.


13. An Italian atheist group wanted to advertise on buses "The bad news is that God does not exist. The good news is you don't need it". When they were refused, they changed it to "The good news is there are millions of atheists in Italy. The excellent news is they believe in freedom of speech."


14. Saudi Arabia owns 15000 acres in California with water rights to the Colorado River so they can cheaply grow alfalfa to feed their cows.


15. When naming a newborn in Iceland, names not previously used aren't permitted via Icelandic rule. A new name would have to be pre-approved by the Icelandic Naming Committee. Also, they are not permitted to give a child a name that would embarrass them.


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16Chronic myelogenous leukemia

We have effectively cured an extremely common form of cancer: chronic myelogenous leukemia.


17. Stevie Nicks is the only woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. Once for Fleetwood Mac and a second time for her solo career.


18. When Julie Andrews received her damehood in 2000, Queen Elizabeth said to her that she’d ‘been waiting for this for a very long time.’ One of Julie Andrews’ earliest performances was at the age of 13, singing “God Save the King” before a then Princess Elizabeth.


19. When American businessman William Vanderbilt died in 1885 his fortune was worth over $300 billion in today’s dollars (which was more than the U.S. Treasury held at the time). In 1973, his heirs held a family reunion at Vanderbilt University, attended by 120 family members, and not one of them was even a millionaire.


20. The Colossus of Rhodes, one of the wonders of the ancient world, only stood for 54 years. It then fell over onto the land after an earthquake, where it was visited by tourists for over 800 years. 


21Cats

Cats cannot taste sweet things because of a genetic deficiency. After analyzing two genes responsible for sweetness detection, scientists found that one was missing in cats, meaning they lack the ability to produce a protein for tasting sweetness.


22. Although red, yellow, and green LED lights have been widely available since the 1960s, blue and white LEDs did not exist until the 1990s. The people who invented the blue LED won the Nobel prize for it in 2014, as it finally allowed for them to display the full-color spectrum with LEDs.


23. Cahokia was the largest pre-Columbia city in what is now the United States. Its pyramids and earthen mounds stood near present-day East St. Louis, Illinois. Around the year 1050, it had 30,000 people, making it larger than London or Paris at the time. It was abandoned by 1400.


24. Joseph and Jacob Loose, two brothers came up with competing cookies that were essentially the same - Hydrox and the Oreo. For years the Hydrox dominated, until the 1950s when Oreo increased the price and licensed it for use in other products, like Cookies & Cream ice cream.


25. A Philadelphia archivist and activist named Marion Stokes continuously recorded major US channels from 1977 to her death in 2012, eventually filling 9 apartments with 71,716 tapes. The collection is now being digitized by The Internet Archive. Most footage she recorded isn’t available anywhere else in the world and would have been lost forever if it wasn’t for her.

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