Random #281 – 50 Fascinating Random Facts

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1Shelter dogs

The Hawaiian island of Kauai encourages tourists to check a dog out of shelters for a day as part of a field trip for dogs program. Having the dogs out and about gives them exercise and increases their chances of getting adopted by a local.


2. Elephants are tremendous distance swimmers. They can swim for up to 6 hours and 25 miles (48km). They are so buoyant that if they tire in the water, they can just rest by floating and will not sink. They can also use their trunk as a snorkel and dive.


3. Three 13-year-old girls submitted a script for "Tiny Toon Adventures". Producer Steven Spielberg was so impressed that he invited the girls to Hollywood to work on the episode and paid them $3,000. This later inspired a Simpsons episode where Bart and Lisa write an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon.


4. Gustav Brunn, the founder of Old Bay seafood seasoning founded his own company after being fired by McCormick after two days on the job after they found out he was Jewish.


5. On the night that MTV launched, the opening sequence for the network featured footage of the Apollo 11 launch, simply because it was public domain and free to use. It was that opening sequence that connected MTVs image with astronauts, including the Video Music Award “moon man” trophy.


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6Ronald Reagan

After the Ronald Reagan assassination attempt, the top aides didn’t have the briefcase containing the codes for launching nuclear missiles. The Vice President was unavailable, and no-one knew what to do. A Soviet submarine then moved closer than usual to the US.


7. The prevailing theory behind why humans like music is that we learn patterns and regularities within music, and we unconsciously predict what will come next. When we are right, our brain gives us a dopamine rush. Thus the constant dance between expectation and outcome is pleasurable to us.


8. After a Polish Admiral of German descent, Józef Unrug was taken prisoner during World War 2, his former Imperial German Navy friends came to visit him. Unrug refused to speak German with them, saying that he had forgotten that language in September 1939 the day Germany invaded Poland.


9. There is a species of sheep named North Ronaldsay sheep on the island of North Ronaldsay in Scotland that survives entirely on seaweed. A wall was built around the island to protect crops from sheep grazing, limiting them to the shoreline where they have adapted to survive on seaweed.


10. Leaving cookies and milk for Santa started to become popular in the U.S during the Great Depression. Parents wanted to teach their kids it was better to give and to be grateful for presents they received during times of economic hardship.


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11Clue

Clue used to be spelled "clew". This was due to clew meaning "a ball of twine" which was symbolic of following the string through a maze and helping find "the way" or "an answer."


12. Jackie Chan sang "I'll Make a Man Out of You" for the Mandarin and Cantonese versions of Mulan (1998).


13. A Neanderthal skeleton which was named Nandy was recovered in Iraq. He suffered extensive injuries, including the loss of an arm early in his life, and was unlikely to have been able to care for himself. Despite this, he lived until the age of 45, suggesting that he was cared for by his society.


14. The company that produces the Jenga game initially wanted to change its name to "Timber!" or "Tumbling". This is because it didn't indicate how the game was played and people wouldn't know what it meant. The original creator refused because she thought the name would gain meaning later on.


15. Dave Grohl does not know how to read music and plays only by ear.


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16Clara Blandick

Clara Blandick, known for her role as Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz, committed suicide in 1962 following a period of poor health. Before dying, she arranged her room with photos, memorabilia, and press clippings from her career, and dressed in a royal blue dressing gown with her hair styled.


17. American abolitionist Frederick Douglass was the most photographed American of the 19th century.


18. Martin Luther King Jr. considered running for president in 1968 after being urged to by anti-Vietnam Democrats but ultimately decided against the proposal as he felt uneasy with politics and considered himself better suited for his morally unambiguous role as an activist.


19. Contrary to its clichéd use in crime fiction, it takes at least five minutes of inhaling an item soaked in chloroform to render a person unconscious.


20. Red squirrels make mushroom jerky, hanging fungi on tree branches to dry for winter storage.


21Eucalyptus trees

Gold can grow on Eucalyptus trees. In its search for water, the Eucalyptus tree absorbs gold particles dissolved in the water deep underground, then storing the gold in the leaves of the tree. This is a cheap and effective way to discover new gold deposits in Australia.


22. In 1917, malaria was used as a treatment for syphilis. “Pyrotherapy” would burn syphilis out of the system. While the patient then had Malaria, this was a far less lethal disease than syphilis and was considered less painful to die from.


23. Milhouse Van Houten from The Simpsons was originally designed by Matt Groening for a Butterfinger commercial before being added to the show. His name originates from Richard Nixon's middle name, Milhous, which according to Groening was the most unfortunate name he could think of for a kid.


24. In 1877, a 35-year-old attorney from Montana named George Cowan was shot 3 times in the head. He then crawled to make coffee at an old camp, crawled through Yellowstone, crossed a river, got burned in a forest fire, had surgery to remove bullets, got thrown from a carriage before it rolled over a cliff, and while receiving care afterwards, his bed broke.


25. The Citadel of Erbil is a mound that has continuously been inhabited since 5000 B.C. In 2007 all inhabitants were temporarily evicted to conduct a restoration project, except for a single-family, who was allowed to stay so as to not break the continuous habitation record.

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