Random #321 – 50 Lesser Known Random Facts

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26Zoo Mirrors

Many birds do not breed very well in small flocks and this is why some zoos use mirrors to help increase reproduction.


27. When Hugh Hefner died, the Playboy Mansion became the property of neighbor Daren Metropoulos who bought the estate in 2016 for $100 million. He reportedly struck a deal with Los Angeles officials that will permanently protect it from demolition, even from future owners.


28. Author Clive Barker supported himself early in his career by occasionally working as a male prostitute for rich and secretive clients. The experience inspired him to write, “The Hellbound Heart”, which was later adapted into the film, “Hellraiser.”


29. When St. Jerome translated the Bible to common Latin, he made the forbidden fruit an apple as a pun.


30. In the 18th century, the Catholic Church commissioned a statue of Lucifer to Joseph Geefs, who gave the statue an “unhealthy beauty.” They then commissioned a replacement to his brother, Guillaume Geefs, who made the statue even more attractive.


31The Great Star of Africa

Queen Elizabeth II owns the largest clear-cut diamond in the world. ‘The Great Star of Africa’ is a 530 carats gem that was mined in South Africa back in 1905 and has an estimated worth of $400 million.


32. In ‘No Time to Die’, the cobbled streets of Matera, Italy did not have sufficient grip for the film’s opening car chase. The crew got around this by pouring Coca-Cola all over the road, making it sticky, and allowing the drivers to perform the stunts.


33. St. Bernards are difficult to train and during the making of Stephen King’s “Cujo” (1983) they had a backup Labrador with a St. Bernard suit. They also had to tie down the tails for each dog used in the film because they kept wagging their tails and looked too happy during filming.


34. Dexter King, Martin Luther King’s son, publicly supported James Earl Ray’s efforts for a retrial as MLK’s family did not believe Ray to be responsible for his death. They instead believed the US Government conspired to assassinate MLK.


35. William Stewart Halsted is considered to be a father of the modern “residency” program for doctors. He invented the system for doctors to work unending hours per shift, believing that immersion in care would provide better outcomes. He also used cocaine and worked 100+ hours a week routinely.


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36Adjustable Seats

In the 1950s, a researcher was designing army airplane seats for an ‘average’ pilot based on measurements from 1000s of airmen, only to discover this theoretical ‘average’ he’d derived wouldn’t fit any of them. This realization led to adjustable seats, foot pedals, helmet straps, and flight suits.


37. The sirens from Greek mythology were never said to be beautiful, or even mermaids. Instead, they were strange human-faced bird creatures who lured men to their deaths by promising them wisdom and knowledge of the future.


38. When Michael Keaton was originally announced as Batman, 50,000 fans mailed letters to Warner Bros in protest and ripped up publicity materials at comic conventions


39. The entire Hard Rock Cafe company is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.


40. Silica gel packets aren’t poisonous. They are labeled “do not eat” because they are a choking hazard.


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41Boris Yeltsin’s Ireland Visit

President Boris Yeltsin once on his visit to Ireland got so drunk on the airplane that it had to circle for an hour over the airport and when it finally landed Yeltsin would not come out of the plane to meet the Irish delegation.


42. When Secretariat (a horse that won the triple crown in 1973) died, his body was sent to the University of Kentucky for an autopsy. They found his heart weighed an astounding 22 pounds! The average weight of a mature thoroughbred horse’s heart is a mere eight pounds.


43. When King Leopold II of Belgium personally acquired the “Congo Free State” in 1885, it was 76 times the size of Belgium. He claimed the land at the 1884-1885 Berlin conference promising to improve the lives of the locals but ended up enslaving them to gather ivory and natural rubber.


44. In 1859, a 2-hour telegraph conversation between Portland and Boston was able to be had without the use of any battery power. This was due to an aurora borealis generating enough electric current in the telegraph wires.


45. Every year on Good Friday, Filipino Catholic devotees are voluntarily, non-lethally crucified. Sterilized nails are driven through their hands and feet. One especially devoted man has been crucified 33 times.


46Underground Microbes

Scientists have found microbes buried beneath the seafloor that divide once every 10,000 years and are as much as 100 million years old.


47. In the 1960s, the Dutch were so frustrated with the government's monopoly on TV that they built an artificial island in the North Sea to transmit uncensored television. Eventually, the Netherlands legally expanded its maritime claim and the military raided the island by air.


48. Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, once considered becoming an attorney but after scoring low on the admissions test decided to work at Disney World and do stand-up comedy. She later brainstormed her billion-dollar company because she disliked the look of pantyhose (seamed feet) in open-toed shoes.


49. Historically, polio was not widely fatal. 72% of all infections were asymptomatic; 24% resulted in mild illness; 1-5% resulted in more serious but short-term symptoms. But polio was still feared, due to the <1% of cases that led to permanent paralysis and death in a further 5-30% of them.


50. During David Niven’s funeral, the largest wreath came from the porters at Heathrow Airport with a card reading “To the finest gentleman who ever walked through these halls. He made a porter feel like a king.”

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