Random #335 – 50 Interesting Random Facts

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26I Can't Go For That Song

The Hall & Oates song "I Can't Go For That" is not about a relationship between two lovers, but about the way the music industry treats artists. John Oates said that the song is really about "not being pushed around by big labels, managers, and agents."

27. An author named Lucy Ellmann created a 1000-page book (Ducks, Newburyport) that is made up of a single run-on sentence.

28. The Cheetah Conservation Fund imports Turkish Kangal dogs to Namibia and Kenya to help protect livestock, which in turn decreases the killing of cheetahs by farmers by reducing the number of animals they lose to cheetahs.

29. During World War 2, the US Navy had two aircraft carriers operating in Lake Michigan as part of the Corn Belt Fleet. They were converted from 1920s paddle steamers and served as floating runways to train pilots away from the battlefield. In total, 17,820 pilots were trained on them including George H. W. Bush.

30. There are more non-human cells in your body than there are human cells. In a human body there are around 30 trillion human cells, but the microbiome (bacteria, viruses, and fungi that live on and in us) has an estimated 39 trillion cells.

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31Chet Miller's Indianapolis 500

During the 1930 Indianapolis 500, Chet Miller's car had suffered a suspension failure and was not allowed to continue until it was fixed. With no parts on hand, mechanics went to a spectator's car in the infield and took parts off of it. They then replaced them post-race without the owner knowing.

32. The Cat Gap is a 7-million-year period from 18.5 million to 25 million years ago when cats became rare or nonexistent in the fossil record in North America.

33. The Potato Park is a seed bank in Peru that is managed by Indigenous communities and focuses on Andean crops and plants. It specializes in potatoes and houses samples of 2300 of the 4000 varieties in the world.

34. The Channel Tunnel between Britain and France was originally proposed in 1802 and its construction was attempted in 1880. Two tunnels were dug but the project was scrapped due to fears of invasion. The tunnels and the boring machine still exist under the English Channel.

35. In honor of his mother, Former President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov abolished the Turkmen word for bread, for it to be replaced with "Gurbansoltan", his mother's first name.

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36John Le Carré

In an attempt to make his spy novels feel more authentic, author John Le Carré is credited with coining a number of terms for his fictional intelligence agency (terms like a mole, honey trap, pavement artist, asset babysitter) which have become common terms used in real intelligence agencies.

37. Benjamin Franklin published a yearly almanac called Poor Richard's Almanack. The publication was extremely popular, selling 10,000 copies per year, making Franklin rich. In 1735, upon the death of his brother, Franklin sent 500 copies to his widow so she could make money selling them.

38. A beer mile is a 1-mile drinking race where runners must drink a pint of beer for every quarter-mile run. Other variations of this sport includes a pint of Ben and Jerry's ice cream for 4 miles, as well as a variation in which runners must solve a Rubik's cube along with each beer for their mile.

39. President Rutherford B. Hayes is remembered in the US mostly for being the first president to lose the popular vote and win the electoral vote. He is remembered very fondly in Paraguay for his help in settling a territorial dispute that ensured "its survival as a country."

40. In 1998, the Gibson Guitar Corporation produced 200 limited-edition guitars which were made from wood from fallen trees on Andrew Jackson's "Hermitage" estate. The trees had been toppled by a tornado that hit Tennessee in April of that same year.

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41Janet Cooke

In 1981, Janet Cooke, a reporter for the Washington Post, won a Pulitzer Prize after she published a story named "Jimmy's World," which was about an 8-year-old heroin addict. It was later found out that she fabricated the whole story and had to give back her Pulitzer Prize.

42. Pope Nicholas III Orsini created a botanical garden in Vatican City that has been maintained for over 700 years.

43. Daniel Lambert (1770-1809), who was the heaviest recorded person during his time, once fought a bear on the streets of Leicester and only gave up horseback hunting when his weight exceeded 560 pounds. He weighed 700 lb (320 kg) at his heaviest. While others have since overtaken his record as the heaviest person in history, he remains a popular character in Leicester,

44. The Moon emits a constant tail of sodium. When small meteorites hit the surface of the moon, the sodium from the dust that is emitted is picked up by the solar wind and blown away in a specific direction.

45. The construction of Washington Monument was halted a few times for a few different reasons, including the civil war. This moment in history is still visible today by the different shading of marble used in the actual build.

46Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian waxwing is a species of bird which can eat huge amounts of berries, sometimes more than double its own weight. Their large liver helps in converting sugar to energy. The fermentation of those sugary fruits however produces a lot of ethanol which they can metabolize more efficiently than humans, but they still might become intoxicated, sometimes fatally.

47. There was a Pee Tax in Ancient Rome. Roman Emperor Vespasian imposed a urine tax on the sale and distribution of urine from Rome's public urinals (which apparently had resale value). The urine collected from these public urinals was sold as an ingredient for several chemical processes. It was used in tanning, wool production, and also by launderers as a source of ammonia to clean and whiten woolen togas. The buyers of the urine paid the tax.

48. The reason the English football club Sheffield Wednesday is named after the day of the week is that the factory workers who played for the team had a half-day off on Wednesday.

49. During the build-up to the release of The Phantom Menace, Star Wars released a poster mocking the lack of plot in Godzilla (1998).

50. Hollywood actress Merle Oberon was an Anglo-Indian who was born in Mumbai, making her the first South Asian ever to be nominated for an Oscar.


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