Random #283 – Fascinating Random Facts

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1Heart attack gun

CIA revealed a “heart attack” gun in 1975. It was a battery-operated gun which fired a dart of frozen water and shellfish toxin. Once inside the body, it would melt leaving only a small red mark on the victim where it entered. The official cause of death would always be a heart attack.


2. Wolves and ravens have a symbiotic relationship. Ravens will lead wolves to prey so that they can take a portion of the leftovers. They also play games of tail-chasing with each other and develop individual friendships.


3. In the Netherlands, if you die and have no next of kin, friends, or family to attend your funeral, they will send a poet who shall read a custom poem for you at your funeral so that you won’t be alone that day. It was started by poet and artist F Staril and is named "The Lonely Funeral" project.


4. Prior to making Finding Nemo, Pixar's in-house art team was required to take Marine Biology, Oceanography, Ichthyology, and Scuba Diving Classes in order to get the look and feel of the characters and their world just right.


5. Actress Margaret Hamilton who is best known by multiple generations as the terrifying Wicked Witch of the West, was a former kindergarten teacher who used her fame to benefit children, animals, and public education for the rest of her life. She was described as very kind and great with kids.


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6Cute babies

Babies’ cuteness is key to their survival. Cute babies are just extremely hard to ignore, and this is likely hardwired into human brains. Less cute children are treated differently.


7. On Disneyland's opening day in 1955, an invitation-only crowd of 15,000 was expected, but thanks to counterfeit tickets, 28,154 entered the gates. A few more even scaled a fence, using a ladder erected by an entrepreneur who charged $5 a head. On the Santa Ana Freeway, there was a 7-mile backup.


8. Napoleon's military genius was considered to be so enormeous that the entire strategy of the Coalition that defeated him (the Trachenberg Plan) depended on retreat wherever and whenever they faced him and only attacking his underlings until they built up an overwhelming numerical troop advantage.


9. When Alfred Hitchcock was five, his father sent him to a police station with a note. The policeman read the note and locked him in jail for a few minutes, saying "this is what we do to naughty boys." This experience left him with a lifelong fear of policemen.


10. John Walker created the match by accident in 1826. He was scraping a mixture of dried chemicals off of a stick in his hearth and it caught fire. Against the advice of friends, he did not patent his idea, leading to others greatly profiting off of his invention.


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11Sloths

Sloths lose 1/3 of their body weight when they poop which happens once a week, on the ground, and in the standing position.


12. Rick Moranis improvised his entire Louis Tully speech in Ghostbusters at his apartment party. None of that was scripted. He decided he'd be a tax accountant and riffed all that gold. “I'm giving this whole thing as a promotional expense, that’s why I invited clients instead of friends.”


13. When Germany invaded Belgium in World War 1, King Albert I took personal command of the Belgian Army. He led his army for 4 years, fighting alongside his troops, while his wife, Queen Elisabeth, worked as a nurse at the front. His 12-year-old son, the Crown Prince, also fought in the ranks.


14. The U.S. Navy employed a dolphin, Tuffy, to regularly deliver tools and mail to scientists living in an experimental underwater laboratory.


15. The music genre “shoegaze” got its name from British critics mocking the musicians always looking down at their shoes while playing instead of the audience. In reality, the musicians had to focus on the numerous music effect pedals in their playlist.


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16Merle Haggard

American singer Merle Haggard was a 20-year-old prisoner at San Quentin when he saw Johnny Cash play his first concert for inmates in 1958. Haggard said it helped turn his life around and inspired him to be a country artist. Cash always told Haggard, “You’re everything that people think I am.”


17. Unobtainium, a metal featured in films like "Avatar" and "The Core", was an engineering term coined in the '50s to describe any highly desirable material that is hypothetical, scientifically impossible, extremely rare, costly, or fictional.


18. People who drive the Oscar Mayer Wienermobiles are called Hotdoggers and only college seniors who are about to graduate are eligible to be Hotdoggers.


19. As a child, Jane Goodall's father gave her a stuffed chimpanzee named Jubilee as an alternative to a teddy bear. Goodall has said her fondness for this figure started her early love of animals. Today, Jubilee still sits on Goodall's dresser in London.


20. Joaquin Phoenix grew up in a cult involved with pedophilia and his parents traveled to Venezuela to recruit followers (not knowing about the pedophilia). The cult was called ‘The Children of God.’


21Faces of Margraten

There is a cemetery in the Netherlands that consists of tombs of the 8,300 US veterans who died there in World War 2. For the past 70 years, Dutch families have come to the cemetery every Sunday to care for a grave they adopted. Hundreds of people are currently on a waiting list to become caretakers.


22. Honeybees can recognize human faces. Before it was thought that only large-brained mammals could distinguish faces, but honeybees can do this as well. They see faces in a compilation of 5,000 individual images, kind of like pixels.


23. The voice of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh, Paul Winchell was one of the original inventors of an artificial heart, an automobile that runs on battery power, a method for breeding tilapia, and many other inventions that are still around today.


24. The National Park Service has officially advised against sacrificing slower friends in a bear attack, ‘even if the friendship has run its course.’


25. John Morrissey went from being a famous gambler during the Gold Rush to a heavyweight boxing champ to the boss of the Irish mob to a New York senator to Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall, which basically controlled New York politics for the Gilded Age, all before dying at the age of 47.

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