Random #279 – Fascinating Random Facts

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1 Laocoön


In 1506, more than a 1000 year old statue was unearthed. The main figure, Laocoön, was missing an arm. The pope commissioned a contest to find who would recreate the missing arm best. Michelangelo’s version lost. In 1906, the original arm was found and it had nearly the exact same pose Michelangelo had sculpted.

2. When Eli Wallach, who played “The Ugly” in “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” arrived in Madrid to shoot the movie, all hotels were full. He ended up having to sleep in the same bed as Clint Eastwood and later often bragged that he was the only man who ever slept with Clint Eastwood.

3. In 1920, the town of Jackson, Wyoming elected an all-female town council by a margin of 2-1 over the men, drawing the most voters the town had ever seen. Known as the “pettycoat rulers,” the women served for 3 years and did a great deal to clean up the notoriously lawless town.

4. US sitcom Bewitched had a 1970 episode explicitly addressing racism. It was written by 26 African-American students from a tenth grade English class and was the favorite episode of series star Elizabeth Montgomery.

5. Coca-Cola makes most of its money from selling syrup to companies that manufacture and distribute their drinks and, as a result, it has a group dedicated to sending resources and experts to help any that are in financial trouble. This helps avoid image and logistical problems for the brand.

6 US prohibition

US prohibition

During the US prohibition era, medicinal liquor was fraudulently exploited in many scams. One doctor was cited for writing 475 prescriptions for whiskey in one day. Charles R. Walgreen, the founder of Walgreen’s pharmacies expanded from 20 stores to a staggering 525 during the 1920s.

7. Bogs are Ireland’s original refrigerators and they are pretty good. Even 3,000-year-old bog butter is edible. We know this because archeologists tended to eat it. The secret is the anaerobic nature of the bog. Without oxygen, neither the butter nor its wooden container decomposes.

8. Instead of “They lived happily ever after”, German fairytales end with “if they haven’t died, then they are still living today.”

9. Yoyoy Villame, a Filipino singer once made a song with Chinese-sounding gibberish. Some of the Chinese community in the Filipino province of Cebu wanted it removed from jukeboxes. According to the singer, a plan to bring it to court failed because no one could find a single Chinese lyric in the song.

10. The lyrics for Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do” were adapted from a poem from a poetry book her producer found in a used bookstore. The book only had an initial print run of 500 copies, but the song paved the way for multiple reprints and earned its author Wyn Cooper substantial royalties.

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11 Cone snail

Cone snail

The cone snail is one of the most venomous animals on earth. It releases a cloud of insulin when a fish swims by, causing it to go into hypoglycemic shock, immobilizing it so it can inject the fish with a cocktail of up to 200 toxins.

12. The Can-Can was a particularly scandalous dance in the 19th century because women wore pantalettes, which had an open crotch, and the high kicks were intentionally revealing.

13. Judit Polgar was the only female chess player to reach the top 50. She was the product of an educational experiment by her father, who wanted to prove that “geniuses are made, not born”. As such, he decided to vigorously train his daughters for chess from a young age.

14. The reason for the Netherlands not being underwater is due to its complex network of dikes, ditches, canals, and pumping stations that have been built through the course of its history. It is so intricate that controlled flooding can create a ring of fortification around Amsterdam, it’s capital.

15. A serial killer named Carroll Cole was responsible for the deaths of at least 15 women. He killed his first victim at just 8 years of age, drowning a classmate in a lake. The death was thought to have been an accident until he confessed about it in an autobiography he wrote in prison.

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16 Lomekwi 3

Lomekwi 3

The oldest ever archaeological site on earth was found in 2011. It was named Lomekwi 3 and was dated to be 3.3 million years old, which is 700,000 years older than previous stone tools discovered and predates the genus Homo by 500,000 years. Around 150 artifacts found.

17. A woman named Margaret Corbin fought in the American Revolutionary War. During the Battle of Fort Washington, when her husband fell in action, she took control of the cannon and fired well-aimed shots at the enemy before being seriously wounded. She later became the first woman in U.S. history to receive a pension from Congress for military service.

18. Griselda Blanco was a Colombian drug lord of the Medellín Cartel. She pioneered the Miami cocaine drug trade and underworld during the 1980s through the early 2000s. It has been estimated that she was responsible for up to 2000 murders while transporting cocaine. She was shot and killed in 2012.

19. “Kaizen” is a Japanese work philosophy where people constantly seek to find ways to improve methods instead of just doing it the same way.

20. In 1971, the Robertson family set sail round the world on their boat Lucette. In the middle of the Pacific ocean, a school of killer whales capsized them. They survived by taking enemas of turtle blood and rainwater collected in the bottom of their lifeboat. Drinking the mixture orally would have been poisonous and led to their deaths. They were rescued after 37 days.

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21 Otter bowl

Otter bowl

In the past few years, at the same time that the NFL’s “Super Bowl” is being played, the Aquarium of the Pacific (in the Californian city of Long Beach) holds the “Otter Bowl”, with the otters playing with footballs made from frozen clams.

22. The Canadian province of Alberta basically has no permanent Norway Rat (a species of rat) population because they have an incredibly aggressive rat control program. It includes a hotline to call if you ever actually see a rat in the province.

23. Actor Sam Elliott — known for his full mustache, and deep, resonant voice — voices Smokey the Bear in the iconic character’s public service announcements, and that the two share the same birthday: Smokey was first introduced on August 9, 1944, the same day Elliott was born.

24. “Women and children first” when evacuating a sinking ship has never been maritime law. It is more common for men to survive shipwrecks than women, and children have the lowest chances of survival. The Titanic is an exception; 75% of women survived compared to only 17% of men.

25. The great Renaissance artist Michelangelo was also a poet. A great number of his poems were written to another man, Tommaso dei Cavalieri. After his death, his grand-nephew published his poems and changed the pronouns of the person addressed from masculine to feminine.

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