Random #314 – 50 Awesome Random Facts

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1Brendan Shanahan

When Brendan Shanahan was 14 years old, he asked star hockey player Rick Vaive for an autograph, but was rudely brushed away. 4 years later, Shanahan was in the NHL, and fought and beat up Vaive the first time they played against each other.


2. Norway hires sherpas from Nepal to build paths in the Norwegian mountains. They have completed over 300 projects, and their pay for one summer equals 30 years of work in Nepal.


3. Norway discovered oil in its country 40 years ago. Knowing the oil would eventually run out, they chose to invest it in a sovereign wealth fund. It is one of the most profitable funds in the world - valued at over $1.3 trillion - enough to self-sustain the county for many years.


4. A Romanian Jew named Eliahu Itzkovitz witnessed a guard kill his family in a concentration camp. After World War 2, he enlisted in the same battalion of the French Foreign Legion as the guard and murdered him while they were deployed in present-day Vietnam.


5. TV show Guy's Grocery Games is shot in a made for TV grocery story with 10 aisles stocked with 20,000 items including fresh meats, seafood, produce, and baked goods which are donated to local food banks each week, which adds up to nearly 30,000 lb per season.


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6Virgin Mary Statue

In 1524, a statue of the Virgin Mary at the Cathedral in Riga, Latvia, was accused of being a witch. They put it on trial by throwing it in the river. Since the wooden statue floated, they declared it guilty and burned it.


7. In 1966, Bill Cosby tried to get 16-year-old folk singer Janis Ian blacklisted from tv because he thought she was a lesbian and therefore unsuited for family entertainment.


8. Jean de Selys Longchamps was a Belgian aristocrat who flew with the RAF during World War 2. After learning that his father had been murdered by the Nazis, he flew to Brussels and machine-gunned the Gestapo headquarters. He was demoted for insubordination but also awarded a medal for heroism.


9. Nearly all French wine grapes are grown on vines grafted to rootstock from Missouri. In the 1860s, phylloxera bugs threatened to destroy the vineyards, but roots from the US were resistant. Hundreds of thousands were shipped in and were used to save the French vines.


10. Raccoons and skunks will literally sniff out a yellow jacket nest at night and dig it up to eat the yellow jackets.


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11Dick Williams

A Titanic Survivor named Dick Williams spent over 6 hours waist-deep in freezing water. When rescue doctors wanted to amputate both his legs, he refused. He recovered and went on to win the Wimbledon Men’s Doubles in 1920.


12. Salvador Dali once conned Yoko Ono into paying $10,000 for a single blade of grass. Yoko had offered to pay that amount for one of his mustache hairs. He substituted the blade of grass because he thought that Yoko Ono was a witch and might use his hair in a spell.


13. In 1999, Tom Green hung his own unauthorized piece of art in the National Gallery of Canada (which remained untouched for days) with the added twist of later coming back and vandalizing it to the horror of onlooking patrons.


14. When his father died of a heart attack, Ronald Mallett resolved to figure out time travel to see him again. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in physics and become a professor and has been working on building a time machine ever since.


15. Eric Moussambani had never seen an Olympic-sized swimming pool before the 2000 Olympics. He recorded the slowest time in 100m freestyle history at 1:52.72. He however won his heat as all other competitors false-started. He is now a national hero, the head swimming coach of Equatorial Guinea.


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16MIT

MIT created a system that provides cooling with no electricity. It was tested in a blazing hot Chilean desert and achieved a cooling of 13°C compared to the hot surroundings.


17. After ZZ Top's exhausting first major tour, the band went on a long hiatus to recover. When the band finally reconvened after two years of relaxing and decompressing, the two guitarists discovered they had both separately let themselves go and grown long thick beards.


18. The medals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (held in 2021) are made from metals recovered from recycled cell phones collected since 2017.


19. Olympic swimming is only timed to hundredths of a second because the pools aren’t built to the millimeter tolerances necessary to measure thousandths of a second.


20. Drowning people almost never shout, thrash or wave for help. 10% of children who drown are supervised by adults who don't recognize the signs.


21McDonald's Happy Meal

The idea for the McDonald's Happy Meal originated in Guatemala. Created by manager Yolanda Fernández de Cofiño to simplify the menu for busy parents, it was later brought to the attention of the Chicago office who developed it further and deployed it in the U.S.


22. There was an elevator driver strike in New York City in 1945. Up until then, people were afraid to use automatic elevators but the strike drove their mass adoption. The elevator driver job driver demand started to decline which ultimately meant their job is lost forever.


23. Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire killed 11% of the world's population in the 13th century.


24. Soviet gymnast Elena Mukhina was widely touted as the next great gymnastics star until 1979. Her coach rushed her recovery from an injury and pressured her to perform a dangerous move (the Thomas salto), which caused her to break her neck, leaving her a lifelong quadriplegic. She died at the age of 46 in 2006.


25. America’s Founding Father’s love for ice cream was well known. Thomas Jefferson crafted an 18-step recipe for vanilla ice cream which is now housed in the Library of Congress. George Washington is said to have spent $200 on ice cream in the summer of 1790.

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