Random #293 – 50 Interesting Random Facts You Should Know

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1Slaveholders

Slaveholders in the US knew that enslaved people were escaping to Mexico. USA tried to get Mexico to sign a fugitive slave treaty, but Mexico refused to sign such a treaty, insisting that all enslaved people were free once they set foot on Mexican soil.


2. Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has disdain for money and large wealth accumulation. In 2017, he said he didn’t want to be near the money, because it could corrupt your values. When Apple went public, Wozniak offered $10 million of his stock to early Apple employees, something Jobs refused to do.


3. A school principal once made a student who had gotten into trouble sit in the basement and read the U.S. Constitution as punishment. That student (who committed the Constitution to memory as a result) went on to become the first Black Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.


4. Shia LaBeouf came under heavy fire for plagiarizing his directorial debut in 2012. When he publicly apologized to the original artist, Dan Clowes, people discovered that Shia's apology was itself plagiarized verbatim off a Yahoo Answers post from 2010.


5. William Whipple, one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, freed his slave after signing it because he believed one cannot simultaneously fight for freedom and hold another person in bondage.


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6Banksy

Graffiti artist Banksy sought to trademark his image of a protester throwing flowers. The trademark office denied it on the grounds of him having no interest in selling his work. In the ruling they used a quote from one of Banksy's books: "copyright is for losers."


7. Mexico has passed a law that requires all food packages to display large black octagonal "warnings" if the product is high in sugar, sodium, calories, or unhealthy fats.


8. At Frank Sinatra's birth, the doctor thought he was stillborn. Blue and not breathing, the doctor laid him on the counter while he attended to Sinatra’s mother. It was only when his grandmother picked up the newborn, ran him under cold water, and slapped his back that Sinatra started breathing.


9. Noodles, the guitarist for ‘The Offspring’ kept his job as a high school janitor for 3 months after the band got big because he promised his boss he wouldn't quit till the end of the school year.


10. Iceland has the largest banana plantation in Europe. They use geothermal energy to heat greenhouses, allowing for the production of tropical fruits like bananas.


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11Occam's Razor

Occam's Razor has a counterargument in medicine called "Hickam's Dictum" (by Dr. John Hickam!). Some doctors (using Occam's) look for a single, elegant cause for all of a patient's symptoms. But Hickam's Dictum says: "A man can have as many diseases as he damn well pleases."


12. Georgy Zhukov, the Marshal of the Soviet Union, was an avid fisherman in his retirement. When President Eisenhower, who considered him the most instrumental Allied leader in Hitler's defeat, learned this he had him sent a set of fishing tackle. Zhukov used it exclusively, for the rest of his life.


13. The common method for a spacecraft to shift between two orbits is called a Hohmann Transfer, and that the guy who calculated it (in 1925) was inspired by a science fiction book written in 1897, which gave a generally correct explanation of the concept of orbit trajectory


14. In 1971, a young hacker named John Draper discovered that the toy whistles found in Captain Crunch cereal boxes were capable of mimicking the tones used by phone companies, allowing him to make free phone calls.


15. In January 2015, Marshawn Lynch was threatened with a $500,000 fine by the NFL if he didn't make himself available for Super Bowl Media Day. He showed up, set a timer on his phone, answered 29 questions with some variation of "I'm here so I won't get fined," and left the podium within 5 minutes.


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16Erwin Kreuz

Erwin Kreuz was a German tourist who planned to visit San Francisco but accidentally disembarked early, and then spent days looking for the Golden Gate Bridge and other Bay Area landmarks in Bangor, Maine. Amused and touched, Maine residents turned him into a local celebrity.


17. Swearing emerges by age 2 and becomes adult-like by ages 11 or 12. By the time children enter school, they have a working vocabulary of 30-40 offensive words.


18. After the murder of his father, Genghis Khan went into poverty, even being enslaved at one point. It wasn’t until he was in his 50’s did he rise to power and become the Khan of Mongolia


19. Women also competed as gladiators in ancient Rome and there is a marble relief dating to around the 2nd century A.D. depicting fight between two women dubbed “Amazon” and “Achillia,” whom the inscription says fought to an honorable draw.


20. In 2016, the Swedish Tourism Council created a single phone number that connected the caller to a random Swede for you to have a conversation with. In the 79 days it was open, almost 200,000 calls were made with a combined 367 days worth of conversations.


21Nowe Ateny

Nowe Ateny, the first Polish encyclopedia included such definitions as "Horse: Everyone knows what a horse is", and "Dragon: Dragon is hard to overcome, yet one shall try."


22. Modern Hollywood was started by a group of independent filmmakers who moved to California in the 1910s to get away from Thomas Edison’s total monopoly on all aspects (scripts, cameras, theaters, actors) of the early, east coast film industry.


23. iTunes helped save "The Office" when it reached four of the top 5 slots for downloaded TV shows on the platform. That’s when the people behind the show learned that their audience skewed young, rather than the white-collar workers they thought would be watching.


24. In stocks, being "short" a stock means you have sold a borrowed share, in hopes that it gets cheaper. You owe a share back, but you are "short" until you buy it back to return to the lender.


25. Rye and oats were originally weeds which grew in wheat fields, over time their seeds evolved to mimic wheat kernels so closely, they inadvertently became a crop themselves.

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