Random #343 – 50 Lesser-Known Random Facts

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26 1958 French Constituional Crisis

1958 French Constituional Crisis

France narrowly avoided a constitutional crisis in 1958 when an attempted military coup was diverted by the wartime leader Charles de Gaulle who gave himself emergency powers to establish a unity government that satisfied both civilian and military leaders.

27. Waggoner Ranch is a 525,000 acre, 800 square mile ranch in North Texas, that went up for sale for $725 million and sold for an undisclosed amount to billionaire Stan Kroenke in 2016, making it the largest sale amount ever offered for an American ranch.

28. Astronauts aboard the ISS feel weightlessness because it’s in orbit (therefore constantly falling) not because of its distance from the earth. An airplane at the same altitude, under its own power, would have 89% as much gravity as the earth’s surface.

29. Newark in New Jersey was founded in 1666 by disgruntled Puritans from Connecticut. Wishing to start a theocracy, they named their settlement New Ark believing they were creating a new ark of the covenant. New Ark remained a Puritan theocracy until 1746 when Episcopalian missionaries built a church.

30. Many Native American tribes used fire for thousands of years to manage forest brush for small game hunting as well as creating grasslands for the big game to be hunted. This resulted in many species of plants, animals, and fungi becoming extinct as the forest became a fire-adapted ecosystem.

31 Steven Spielberg’s Harry Potter Movie

Steven Spielberg's Harry Potter Movie

Steven Spielberg developed the first Harry Potter film for 6 months. He called it a “slam dunk” and envisioned it being an animated film with Haley Joel Osment playing Harry. He left due to creative differences with Rowling.

32. Whoopi Goldberg has a fear of flying and only travels by tour bus because she witnessed a mid-air plane collision take place in San Diego back in 1978.

33. The funeral procession for Ulysses S. Grant contained more than 1.5 million people. Pallbearers for Grant included four Civil War Generals, Sherman, Sheridan, Johnston, and Buckner.

34. During the 1960s American banks mass-mailed 100 million unsolicited credit cards to customers including unemployable people, drug addicts, and compulsive debtors. This practice was outlawed in 1970 due to the financial chaos it caused.

35. The Treble Clef symbol in musical notation began as a ‘G’, and due to repeated hand-copying by church scribes, mutated into the modern treble clef symbol. The bass clef symbol similarly began as an ‘F’.

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36 Brian May’s Banjo String Guitar

Brian May's Banjo String Guitar

Queen’s guitarist Brian May uses banjo strings on his electric guitars. Banjo strings are much lighter (thinner) and can bend much easier, which gives the band its signature sound.

37. The “Ancient Spanish Monastery” in Miami was originally built in 1141 A.D. in Europe and was imported brick-by-brick into the U.S. in 1925 by media tycoon William Randolph Hearst, making it the oldest European building in the Western Hemisphere.

38. The national sport in Anguilla is boat racing. This passion stemmed from the early 1900s when Anguillans sought employment on neighboring islands. The voyages home would turn into competitions of speed.

39. The Stadium Sponsorship Curse is the phenomenon of bad things happening to companies that put their name on a sports stadium.

40. Henry Ford believed jazz music was unwholesome. So, to protect wholesome culture, he used his money to have square dancing taught in public schools.

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41 The Kereru

The Kereru

The Kereru is a species of Wood Pigeon, native to New Zealand, which is well-known for getting drunk off fermented fruit and falling out of trees. Consequently, it has earned the reputation for being “clumsy, drunk, gluttonous, and glamorous.”

42. The Dodge Stealth and the Mitsubishi 3000GT are essentially the same cars. The Dodge Stealth is an example of rebadging or badge engineering: that is, a manufacturer creates a distinct automobile by applying a new badge or trademark to an existing product line.

43. The British MI5 hired an astrologer after they learned that Hitler supposedly used astrology to influence his actions. However, it was later known that the predictions of Hitler’s astrologer were extremely inaccurate and Hitler himself thought of astrology as ‘complete nonsense.’

44. Hula hoop isn’t simply a fad from the 1950s. Hoops have been twirled by adults and children since at least 500 B.C.

45. In the UK, it is a legal requirement for at least 5% of all broadcasts on a channel to be in sign language. At least 10% must have an audio description. This is on top of a requirement for 90% of programs to be subtitled.

15 Most Controversial & Costly Blunders in History

46 American Airlines Flight 191

American Airlines Flight 191

On May 25, 1979, American Airlines Flight 191 crashed into an open field after the plane engine fell off during take-off. This caused the plane to rotate left and fly sideways until it plunged to the ground. With 273 fatalities, it is the deadliest aviation accident in U.S. History.

47. There is an asteroid (technically, a minor planet having a diameter of ≈250 km) named ‘10199 Chariklo’ that has its own ring system. It is the smallest known celestial body to have a ring system.

48. Pluto’s moon, Charon, has a rusty red section crowning its polar region. New Horizons investigators discovered that it comes from methane gas escaping from Pluto’s atmosphere due to its weak gravity and freezing on Charon.

49. The 1993 film ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ inspired a real-life love story between a widower in Seattle who appeared on ‘The Oprah Winfrey’ show and a Californian woman who responded through letters. They have been together for 28 years.

50. Paleontologists have discovered a dinosaur fossil in Hell Creek Montana which they have nicknamed “Fighting Dinosaurs.” It is a complete Protoceratops fighting a Velociraptor, both of which are trapped in combat.

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