Random #296 – 50 Fascinating Random Facts

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1 FBI and CIA


The F.B.I. and C.I.A. recruit heavily from the Mormon population because they are usually cheaper to do a security clearance on, they often speak another language from their mission trips and they usually have a low-risk lifestyle.

2. At an Allied checkpoint during the Battle of the Bulge, US General Omar Bradley was detained as a possible spy when he correctly identified Springfield as the capital of Illinois. The American military police officer who questioned him mistakenly believed the capital was Chicago.

3. When the British raised taxes on beer in the 17th century, they inadvertently made gin the cheapest alcoholic beverage in the country. The ensuing widespread consumption of gin led to substantial alcoholism problems in Britain, with the death rate overtaking the birth rate during this period.

4. The Jack Black film Nacho Libre is loosely based on the life of Fray Tormenta (Father Storm), a Mexican priest who supported his orphanage as a Lucha libre wrestler for 23 years. He still wears his mask during his priestly duties.

5. In Moscow, packs of stray dogs will sometimes send out a smaller, cuter member to beg for food, apparently realizing it will be more successful than its bigger, less attractive counterparts.

6 Wolf Totem

Wolf Totem

For the 2015 Chinese film “Wolf Totem”, 35 Mongolian wolves were trained in China for over 4 years by a Scottish trainer, who trained them to sit, snarl, and fight on cue. After filming, the wolves were ultimately relocated to Canada, since they only understood commands in English.

7. Czechoslovakia split up against the wishes of its people: “only 37% of Slovaks and 36% of Czechs favored dissolution.”

8. Basque (a language spoken near the Spain/France border) is a language isolate. Not only is it not a Romance language, it’s not even an Indo-European language. It is the only surviving Pre-Indo-European language in Western Europe.

9. Amish beards have no mustache because they associate them with the military and they are pacifists.

10. When recording a guest spot on The Simpsons, Justin Timberlake took issue with a line in which he said “Word!” saying it felt inauthentic. As a prank, the staff then edited his dialogue in production so every line ended with him saying “Word!”

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11 Wonka bar

Wonka bar

Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971) was produced by Quaker Oats. Idea was that they were going to release a chocolate bar & the movie would promote it. However, they goofed the formula & it melted at room temperature. So when the movie was released, there was no chocolate bar to sell. 

12. The rarest naturally occurring element on Earth, astatine, is so rare that there are only 28 grams of it on Earth at any given time. It is difficult to study, as most of its isotopes have a half-life of 1 second or less. Its appearance is not known with certainty.

13. Mariano Martinez in 1971 modified an ice cream machine to create the first frozen margarita machine. He did this to meet the demand for a popular margarita recipe he was serving at the time. You can find his invention on display at the Smithsonian Museum for American history. 

14. Hawaii was not a U.S. state when Pearl Harbor was attacked. It was 18 years after Pearl Harbor that Hawaii officially became the 50th U.S. state on August 21st, 1959.

15. Clint Eastwood hated the cigars that his character smoked in the “Dollars Trilogy”. Because he would have to do multiple takes, he smoked them quite a bit. According to Eli Wallach, Eastwood would sometimes tell the director: “You’d better get it this time because I’m going to throw up.” 

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16 Coffee beans

Coffee beans

The first country to recognize Greek independence was not any of the western powers, but Haiti, which allegedly sent 25 tons of Coffee beans to finance their rebellion.

17. Robert-François Damiens, after trying to assassinate the king, was sentenced to be executed by having his skin ripped with pliers, molten lead and sulfur being poured onto his ripped skin, then dismemberment by four horses. At hearing this, Damiens replied: “Well, it’s going to be a tough day.”

18. The drought of 1976-77 aligned harmoniously with the rise of skateboarding. In an effort to conserve water, pools were being emptied all throughout Southern California. With that, emerging skaters like Tony Alva, Steve Olson, and the late Jay Adams were jumping fences and skating empty pools.

19. Charlie Chaplin’s corpse was dug up and held for ransom in 1978.

20. Hugh Laurie gave Lin-Manuel Miranda the idea for the song “You’ll Be Back” from Hamilton after a guest-starring on House in 2009. Miranda mentioned to Laurie he was trying to write a breakup letter from King George to the colonies and “without blinking, he improv’d at me, ‘Awwww, you’ll be back.” 

15 Most Controversial & Costly Blunders in History

21 Harvard University

Harvard University

Harvard University (founded 1636) temporarily lost the title of “oldest university in the United States” when the US colonized the Philippines (1899-1946), as Manila’s Universidad de Santo Tomas (founded 1611) predated Harvard by 25 years.

22. After hearing Leonard Cohen’s album including “Hallelujah,” the head of CBS Records said it wasn’t good enough for a U.S. release. Years later, accepting an award, Cohen thanked his record company by saying, “I have always been touched by the modesty of their interest in my work.” 

23. In 1947, American researcher John Calhoun began a 2-year study of rats in a massive pen. Although 5 females could have produced 5,000 progeny, the population never passed 200. The rats did not scatter but organized themselves into 12 colonies of a dozen rats each. He noted that 12 was the maximum that can live in peace.

24. Belgian-Australian singer Gotye didn’t monetize his music on YouTube, missing out on millions of dollars in revenue from just his “Somebody That I Used To Know (feat. Kimbra)” video on YouTube. 

25. Newlywed couples who watched and discussed five movies about relationships over a period of a month reduced their three-year divorce or separation rate from 24% to 11%. That makes it as effective in reducing divorce rates as a 20-hour therapist-led early marriage counseling program.

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