Random #356 – 50 Awesome Random Facts

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26Dogs Intentionally Do This

Dogs Intentionally Do This

Dogs intentionally try to make humans laugh. They understand that laughter means play, and play is positive.

27. A cup of grape juice contains 33% more sugar than a cup of grape soda.

28. Robert De Niro paid a dentist $5,000 to have his teeth ground down to look more menacing for Cape Fear. He later paid $20,000 to have his teeth restored once production was complete.

29. Gargoyles were used in buildings to scare churchgoers, attract pagans, and keep water from damaging stone walls. The use of gargoyles in architecture dates back to ancient Egypt.

30. Even though smoking isn't allowed on commercial planes, the lavatories must have ashtrays on the doors so that people who break the rules can get rid of their cigarettes safely.

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15 Most Controversial & Costly Blunders in History

31$3.77 to USA

$3.77 to USA

In 1931, during the Great Depression, there were so many news accounts of starving citizens in the USA that colonial-era Cameroon in west Africa raised money for Americans as aid. They collected $3.77, which would be about $70 today.

32. While filming "Monty Python & The Holy Grail" (1975), Graham Chapman developed delirium tremens (DTs) from the lack of alcohol on set. DTs can be fatal even with treatment and typically only affect habitual drinkers who consume 0.5L of liquor or 7-8 pints of beer daily for 10 years or more.

33. The USS Indianapolis delivered the enriched uranium and parts for the "Little Boy" atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima, but no one onboard knew the contents of this cargo. During the whole trip, a radiologist monitored the uranium in secret to make sure that the sailors wouldn't receive any radiation.

34. National Geographic editor Bill Garrett was fired from the magazine in 1990 because he wanted to publish more controversial features that raised production costs. Stories about AIDS and the Exxon Valdez oil spill were published under his direction.

35. In 2010, when sales were down because of the financial crisis of 2008, Gap decided to redesign their logo, which was 20 years old and would cost about $100 million. The amount of public backlash for the new logo was so great that Gap took the decision to revert back to their old 1990 logo after less than one week.

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36Number of Abs

Number of Abs

The number of abdominal muscles you have is genetic and varies from person to person. The number of abs you have depends on the number of rings of abdominal tissue that someone is born with, and some people can actually have 10-pack abs.

37. A gin pennant (sometimes referred to as a "gin flag or drinking pennant") is a maritime flag. When flown aboard ship, it indicates an open invitation to other ships' officers to come aboard for drinks.

38. It costs about $100,000 a day to operate a blimp. Of the 25 blimps existing around the world, only half are in use. They are primarily used for advertising and aerial photography.

39. Ligers (the offspring of a male lion and female tiger) are the largest big cats because, unlike lionesses, female tigers do not possess growth-limiting genes to counter the growth-maximizing genes of male lions.

40. To finish writing "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" within an impossible deadline of 6 months, Victor Hugo locked his clothes away, making him unable to go outside and procrastinate, which forced him to do nothing but finish writing his book.

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41Depleted Uranium

Depleted Uranium

Depleted uranium is used to create projectiles capable of puncturing tank shells and armor. It is done not only because it is extremely dense but also because, upon impact, a depleted uranium shell will continually sharpen itself and retain its shape.

42. Badge engineering is the practice of marketing a vehicle under two or more brand names. A good example of this is the 2010 Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, and Mazda Tribute, which are the same model sold under different brands.

43. Willie O'Ree, the first black man to play in the NHL, was blind in one eye. He kept it a secret for his entire 21-year career after a ricocheting puck hit him in the face when he was 18 years old.

44. Not only is it possible to make cheese from breast milk, someone made mac and cheese with it and served it to Gordon Ramsay.

45. Someone made up a story that Neil Armstrong became a Muslim after hearing the call to prayer on the moon. Even though it was officially denied, the rumor kept going around, in part because Armstrong lived in Lebanon, Ohio, not Lebanon, the country.



Beavers are keystone species, which means they play an important role in ecosystems by modifying the area in a way that is beneficial to plants and animals.

47. If you cut up 2 different sponges, disaggregate them (push them through a sieve), and mix the 2 cell slurries together, the sponge cells reassociate with their own cells but not with cells of the other species. This is being studied to understand tissue repair and transplant rejection.

48. Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei, owns over 7000 cars, and his official car is a gold-plated Rolls Royce.

49. A "ferocious rabbit" ran amok in Central Park in 1917. He terrorized the sheep in Sheep Meadow, maimed dogs, and fought an orangutan in the zoo.

50. Singer Cass Elliot, better known as 'Mama Cass', did not like her 'Mama' moniker a single bit-to the point where she named her 1973 live album and TV special "Don't Call Me Mama Anymore." This is why her solo career in the 1970s is billed as 'Cass Elliot'.

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  1. RE: Fact# 11 – The Texas Killing Fields:

    I-45 southbound from Houston to the coast. Industrial area with transient workers at oil refineries. The Netflix documentary is done really well. The guy who operates the search company that goes out to rural areas to find missing kids, you see him on news reports all the time Texas Equasearch – he started it because his daughter was murdered and buried in the killing fields and police weren’t working the cases hard enough.

    The documentary is called Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields.

    • I think the movie Vengeance is roughly based on this too. A perfect place where all the jurisdictions overlap and no one wants to take it.

  2. RE: Fact# 6 – Henry Ford:

    He was only interested in changes that made them cheaper to build. One of my great-uncles claimed Ford made his company ship parts in very specifically designed wooden boxes, right down to screws and screw locations. He said the box panels were a drop-in for Model-T floorboards.

    • When Ford went in house with windscreens, overnight they became the second largest glass makers in the world.

      At one point they were looking to build a car out of soy and cellulose that would last 20 years then need to be recycled. (Engine would remain metal).

      It’s a shame he was both mad, racist, and a cunt.

      • Don’t forget how he hired the Mob as muscle to kill union organizers, till they realized that charging union dues was basically a way to legalize the protection money racket … Then they turned on Ford & became union organizers.

        • Took the mob a couple more decades to realize they could take massive loans from union pension funds and get way richer. Borrow money, build a casino, never repay pension fund, profit.

    • When Ford wanted to move into the business of making agricultural tractors in 1917 he found someone else had registered the trademark for “Ford Tractor Co.,” a cunning move borne of foresight and made in an attempt to sell him his own name.

      Ford called his tractors “Fordson” and Ford kept the brand until 1964.

      Dude was stingy.

  3. RE: Fact# 10 – Lawspeaker:

    There was a Burmese Buddhist monk named Mingun Sayadaw who was “Chief Respondent” at the sixth Buddhist council. It was said that he recalled the exact page and line of every monastic rule and the story behind the rule in the Theravada vinaya (monastic rules). He had to memorize about 16,000 pages of text.

    Buddhism in India required some monks to memorize vast amounts of text and chant it on a regular basis. Even after the Tipitaka (about 10 volumes of text) was written down, this practice continued as a type of mind training.

    It has its roots in the belief that Ananada, the Buddha’s attendant and cousin, recalled every word the Buddha said along with the place and time it was said. Many of the discourses in the Tipitaka start with the phrase: evam me suttam, translated as “thus have a I heard” — supposedly Ananda’s words.

    • And yet, as we know, human memory isn’t perfect. The more text were talking the faster the corruption, not that people would know… He’d just say somewhat sameish things, details changing over time but propel would just assume he always has as right and they misremembered.

      Names, places, actions…all bound to change ove time as his memory got worse. At the end of the day the only things we could actually trust would be the moral of the story and not the story itself.

      • The more text were talking the faster the corruption, not that people would know

        The scholars of Pali point out that group chanting served the purpose of correcting memory errors — it is an interesting idea and we see it in practice in the Theravada tradition. Though the words have obviously changed over millennia.

      • It’s true that human memory is highly imperfect – especially untrained human memory – but you might want to look into the oral history of the Australian aborigines. They apparently managed to keep things accurate for 10,000 years.

        Other cultures also managed impressive feats of recall. The greeks had special techniques for remembering large amounts of text as well – which is why the Iliad and the Odyssey survived until they were written down.

        • Indigenous Australians managed to build into their language based histories error checking that helped prevent them straying.
          This was across their myriad of languages.
          Only a few years ago a lost song was returned to the people of the blue mountains by a tribe that lived over 2500km away, translating it back into the original language with minimal loss of integrity.

  4. RE: Fact# 2 – Auto Correct Feature Excel:

    The stupid thing about this is, that the auto date correction function is not-intuitive, and not consistent with how Excel otherwise behaves. For example, Excel already has awareness and warnings for when formulas in a block of adjacent cells are different–that warning is motivated by the logic that most humans would want adjacent formulas to be consistent (i.e. there may be an error that needs to be fixed). So why the hell is the default behavior for the pasting in of a list of strings for Excel to then assume that some (random) subset of those adjacent cells should be converted to dates? It’s just bad design that MS has never fixed.

    • It’s just bad design that MS has never fixed.

      Excel has been doing this from the start, and sometimes deliberately. It still insists that February 29, 1900 existed (it does not, under our Gregorian calendar) because that’s what Lotus 1-2-3 did when it copied them 40 years ago. And it continues to interpret -x2 as positive because it applies negation before exponentiation, going completely against convention. I know it’s not easy balancing backwards compatibility with bug fixes, but it seems Microsoft tends to err on the side of backwards compatibility.

      • it seems Microsoft tends to err on the side of backwards compatibility.

        This is exactly right.

        Microsoft knows that, no matter how much they shout and cry that you should keep your software updated, they know there always will be companies, depressingly important companies, that have a server still running Microsoft ME, connected to a printer whose company went under in 2003 and has no new driver available since, and of course it’s running some important service the entire company runs on, so it isn’t even connected to the Internet because the world will end if a damn update takes it down.

        Microsoft invest heavily in backwards compatibility, to the point of unreasonableness. Famously, to this day, you can’t name files CON, AUX or LPT1 for reasons that haven’t been relevant since the MS-DOS days. Just in case.

        Obligatory Tom Scott video on this.

  5. RE: Fact# 8 – Sea Urchins:

    In Spanish, hedgehogs are called “erizos” and sea urchins are called “erizos de mar”, literally meaning “sea hedgehog”.

  6. RE: Fact# 9 – Goddamn Particle:

    Science reporting ranges from “honest attempt by a non-expert journalist” to “technically-not-wrong clickbait nonsense” to “outright lies to get views”

    I’m a professional scientist (postdoc) and I sometimes get to watch the decay of information in real time.

    1. A researcher publishes a paper with a new interesting result
    2. They summarize their result in the abstract
    3. The university department media person summarizes the abstract in a press release page on the department website
    4. If the result is big, some random university employee (i.e. probably an overworked undergrad intern) summarizes the press release on the main university website
    5. If the result is bigger, some tech blog summarizes the university press release
    6. If the result sounds cool, b&zzfeed or someone summarizes the blog post
    7. If the result sounds cool, and might make somebody money, a news writer for CNN or some other network summarizes the b*zzfeed article
    8. If the result is memorable, lots of people spam the news article all over social media, with its contents summarized in the title
    9. If the result sounds unexpected, people make memes of their interpretations of it
    10. I get a phone call from my mom asking how lasers can be used to move the moon or some shit, and I have to reverse-engineer what the fuck she’s talking about, what research this insane game of telephone started with, and let her down gently about how that’s definitely not what the actual scientific result says.
    • I’m a scientist, too (also postdoc) and I just started writing my own press releases. Last time there was a result that was a bit more generally interesting I just wrote a fake interview-with-myself-like press release that I felt comfortable with and sent it to the university PR team, resulting in them just publishing it verbatim (’cause it’s less work for them). News outlets then just copied the press release with a few minor changes here and there and I was happy about our results not being misrepresented.

  7. RE: Fact# 3 – Release of Bionicle:

    Damn I still remember these commercials. One had the song ‘move along’ by all American rejects and tbh that was the most epic thing I’d seen on TV as a 9 year old

  8. RE: Fact# 4 – 1999 Aggie Bonfire Disaster:

    Bonfire is still built and burnt every year, it’s just with an organization that’s not officially affiliated with the University

    • How big are the unofficial bonfires these days?

      I know one of the problems with the old Aggie bonfire was that they tried to make it a little bigger every year, so over time it became stupidly tall.

      • 45 feet is the limit now, and that’s only at the top of center pole. The biggest change from old designs is that they used to build each tier on top of the other. Nowadays it’s built where every log touches the ground and they just use different length logs to get the tiered effect.

  9. RE: Fact# 5 – 1794 Slave Trade Act:

    For all wondering, yes it WAS enforced. One year after it was enacted, a Rhode Island merchant (ironically named John Brown) was caught using his ship to transport slaves, and the government had the vessel confiscated from him.

    • In 1860 the last slave ship, Clotilda, illegally imported new slaves to America from the Dahomey.

      Dahomey was a Kingdom in Africa depicted in Woman King that supposedly gave up slave trading in the 1820s. (Though clearly they didn’t.)

      Enforced … Sometimes.

    • I’m reading Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi. Slaves weren’t just free labor, they were an investment. By 1800, there were about a million in the U.S. cutting off the transatlantic slave trade meant the value of those at home skyrocketed. By 1860, there were nearly 4 million. Instead of bringing more over, slave owners turned to breeding and selling the ones they owned.

      I’d hate for people to come away with the impression that the decision to end transatlantic slave trading was based on humanity. It was based on profits, and the recognition that they now had an unlimited supply here in the U.S.

  10. RE: Fact# 7 – Statute of Labourers 1351:

    The black plague was simultaneously the best and worst thing to ever happen to human civilization. It killed something like 13% of the entire human population on the planet.

    But it also put an end to feudalism and shifted the social balance of power toward the working class, which laid the groundwork for modern society.

    Without the plague the world would not exist as it does today and would likely still be some form of vassal society.

    • Empty, muddy, overgrown stretches of land, all of it private, right off the busy interstate, and without much reason for people to go there. Tiny police departments without much in the way of experience or resources all down the line.

  11. RE: Fact# 12 – Elizabeth Crofts: More info from the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900:

    CROFTS or CROFT, ELIZABETH (fl. 1554), was the chief actor in an eccentric imposture, contrived early in 1554, on the part of the protestants to excite an open demonstration in London against the projected marriage of Queen Mary with Philip of Spain.

    The girl, who was only about eighteen years old, appears to have concealed herself within a wide crevice in the thick wall of a house in Aldersgate Street. The wall faced the street, and by means of a whistle or trumpet her voice assumed so strange a sound as to arrest the attention of all passers-by. Large crowds constantly assembled, and confederates scattered among the people interpreted her words as divinely inspired denunciations of King Philip, Queen Mary, and the Roman catholic religion.

    The device deceived the Londoners for many months, and the mysterious voice was variously named “the white bird,” “the byrde that spoke in the wall,” and “the spirit in the wall.”

    Before July 1554 the imposture was discovered; Elizabeth was sent to Newgate and afterwards to a prison in Bread Street, and there confessed the truth. She said that one Drake, Sir Anthony Knyvett’s servant, had given her the whistle, and that her confederates included a player, a weaver of Redcross Street, and a clergyman…

    On Sunday 15 July she was set upon a scaffold by St. Paul’s Cross while John Wymunsly, archdeacon of Middlesex, read her confession. “After her confession read she kneeled downe and asked God forgivenes and the Queen’s Maiestie, desyringe the people to praye for her and to beware of heresies. The sermon done she went to prison agayne in Bred Street. … And after Dr. Scorye resorted to her divers tymes to examin her; and after this she was released” (Wriiothesley, Chronicle, ii. 118).

    On 18 July one of her accomplices stood in the pillory “with a paper and a scripter on his hed.” No other proceedings appear to have been taken, although seven persons were said to have taken part in the foolish business.

    The imposture resembles that contrived with more effect twenty-two years earlier by Elizabeth Barton [q. v.], the maid of Kent.

  12. RE: Fact# 2 – Auto Correct Feature Excel:

    It’s not even just dates. Long numbers like UPC codes are automatically displayed in scientific notation. Getting excel to import a CSV file without it autodetecting girls as numbers or dates or something else is way more trouble than it should be.

    It’s a text file. Assume it is just text unless I explicitly tell you otherwise.

    In case anyone wanted to avoid this problem: The trick is that instead of doing File – Open, you create a new sheet and then you do Data – From Text. Like this. Thats how you get to see the options for data types. Thats way more trouble than it should be, and the default when opening file should be to assume everything is text.

  13. RE: Fact# 5 – 1794 Slave Trade Act:

    Washington also signed the 1793 Fugitive Slave Law, which guaranteed the right of slaveholders to recover escaped slaves across state line.

    He also actively avoided Pennsylvania’s emancipation law by rotating his slaves out of the president’s Philadelphia residence. Otherwise by law those people would have become freemen after 6 months.

    • Not to mention his efforts in attempting to recapture Oney Judge who was one of those slaves illegally held in Philadelphia who managed to escape to New Hampshire.

  14. RE: Fact# 4 – 1999 Aggie Bonfire Disaster:

    I was a freshman at University of Texas that year, and played in the marching band. This happened a few days before we were going to play A&M at Kyle Field. We quickly learned Amazing Grace and a few other spirituals so that we could show respect during the halftime show. I think the fans appreciated the gesture. Lots of tears and a brief respite to the rivalry.

    I also remember that the day the bonfire collapsed I was wearing a highly offensive shirt to school that said something like “Oops, Ags blew it agan”. I made the choice to turn it inside out after hearing the news.

  15. RE: Fact# 11 – The Texas Killing Fields: This field is about 2 miles from my house. I drive down the road to avoid traffic.

  16. RE: Fact# 4 – 1999 Aggie Bonfire Disaster:

    I was a student there at the time. Electrical engineering student as well. Bonfire was constructed on the old polo grounds and the closest building on campus was Zachary hall, which is the electrical engineering building. It was surreal to watch it grow week after week, and then so close to completion see it toppled over like Lincoln logs.

    I understand it’s really easy to be cynical, but those kids didn’t do anything to deserve dying. I was involved in “cut” one year and it was really impressive how integrated A&M was with the community. Fall was cut and spring was replant.

    In hindsight just about every tragedy is preventable.



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