Random #372 – 50 Astonishing Random Facts That Rewrite the Rules

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1Beck Regretted "Loser" Parody Rejection

Beck Regretted

Beck rejected Weird Al's request to parody his hit 1990s song "Loser" because Beck felt he wasn't being taken seriously as an artist. Later, Beck regretted this decision, saying, "I think it would have made an amazing video. I'm actually really sad it didn't happen."

2. A Frenchman named Marquis de Lafayette volunteered to join the American Revolution. At the age of 19, he met the 45-year-old George Washington. He later returned to France and, at the age of 42, fought against the rise of the 30-year-old Napoleon Bonaparte. He is typically dubbed the "hero of two worlds."

3. During the early 1990s, Terry Pratchett switched his German publisher after they included an unauthorized Maggi soup advertisement in one of his novels. Heyne, the publisher, refused to commit to avoiding such actions in the future. Consequently, Pratchett made the transition to Goldmann as his new publisher.

4. When two pieces of similar metals touch in a vacuum and both pieces are perfectly flat and polished, they will fuse to effectively create one new piece. This phenomenon is known as cold welding.

5. The Austrian wine industry collapsed in 1985 after it was discovered that several large wineries had been using diethylene glycol (a component of antifreeze) to sweeten their wines.

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6Habsburg Inbreeding & Maria Antonia

Habsburg Inbreeding & Maria Antonia

The highest coefficient of inbreeding among the Habsburg dynasty was 0.3053, and it belonged to Maria Antonia of Austria. Her coefficient was higher than that of a child born to a parent and child or brother and sister. Her father was her mother's maternal uncle, and her paternal first cousin, once removed, and her maternal grandparents were related as uncle and niece. Remarkably, she was also the niece of Charles II of Spain, one of history's most infamous examples of inbreeding. Interestingly, despite her even higher degree of inbreeding, she did not encounter the same health issues that plagued Charles II.

7. In 1917, when the US Army tested what later became known as the M1917 Browning Machine Gun, it fired non-stop for 48 minutes and 12 seconds (over 21,000 rounds) without a malfunction. Some irregular forces still use it today, having entered service in the latter stages of World War 1.

8. 601 Lexington Avenue in New York City, once the 7th-tallest building in the world, was in danger of toppling over in high winds due to a structural error. This issue was secretly fixed, and the public had no knowledge of the problem until an article about it emerged decades later.

9. One of the reasons Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton had their famous duel was because Burr wanted to turn the Manhattan Company into a bank. After Hamilton's death, he achieved this by helping establish the Manhattan Bank, which later became JPMorgan Chase.

10. Golden Week in China is a 7-day holiday during which workers receive 4 paid days off between 2 weekends, allowing everyone to travel and visit distant family.

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11Sumerian Scribes' Year to Multiply

Sumerian Scribes' Year to Multiply

In 1815 B.C., it took Sumerian scribes approximately a year to grasp the art of multiplication, and they even went as far as signing and dating their homework.

12. The restriction on single riders for Ferris Wheels at many amusement parks isn't primarily about the gondola's weight balance; it's largely aimed at reducing the risk of potential suicide attempts.

13. António Egas Moniz, a pioneer of the lobotomy procedure, was honored with the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1949. Subsequently, the Nobel Foundation has not revoked the award, and there remains an active article from the foundation defending this decision.

14. The single-tax movement, also known as geoism or georgism, advocates that government funding should rely on a tax on land rent rather than taxing labor.

15. In 1941, Allied forces successfully staged a delaying action against the invading Nazis at Thermopylae, the very location where Spartans had previously mounted a successful delaying defense against the invading Persians in 480 B.C.

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16Feng Shui and Negative Energy

Feng Shui and Negative Energy

Feng Shui is so deeply ingrained in Hong Kong that when the Bank of China was constructed without adhering to its principles, the nearby HSBC building installed maintenance cranes resembling cannons to counteract its perceived negative energy.

17. In 2022, on what would have been his 200th birthday, Gregor Mendel, often regarded as the father of genetics, had his body exhumed. Scientists examined his skeleton, analyzed his DNA, and even discovered an additional coffin not officially recorded.

18. There is no antivenin available for Blue Ring Octopus venom. Their tiny, often painless bites induce total body paralysis, leaving victims fully conscious as they suffocate, unable to call for help. This is why Australian children are taught to avoid touching anything in a rock pool.

19. An 18th-century circus performer named Thomas Wedders holds a Guinness World Record for having the longest recorded nose in history, measuring a remarkable 7.5 inches (19cm).

20. In 1978, when John Carpenter screened the final cut of "Halloween" without sound effects or music for a 20th Century Fox executive, the executive showed no fear. Determined to enhance the film's impact, Carpenter composed the famous score in just three days.

21Anglo-Saxon Coins with Arabic Text

Anglo-Saxon Coins with Arabic Text

In the 8th century, some Anglo-Saxon coins featured the Arabic phrase "Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah" alongside the king's name in English. This was apparently an attempt to mimic the visual style of Caliphate coins without comprehending their meaning.

22. The Hoplitodromos, an ancient Greek Olympic event, required competitors to run a distance of 400 meters while wearing heavy shields and helmets, coinciding with the effective range of a Persian archer's zone of fire.

23. Physicist Walter Jaeger set out to invent a sensor for detecting poison gas, expecting the gas to affect the sensor's electric current. When it didn't, he lit a cigarette and was surprised to find that the smoke did alter the current. This chance discovery led to the development of the modern smoke alarm.

24. The U.S. government started the Great Plains Shelterbelt project, which involved planting trees from Canada to Texas to prevent wind erosion. It stands as one of the largest environmental endeavors undertaken by the U.S. government, resulting in the planting of 220 million trees across an 18,600-square-mile area by 1942.

25. Ghost jobs are a form of deceptive advertising that are utilized by many companies without any intention of hiring, often for purposes such as fabricating false industry statistics, spying on competitors' wage structures, or amassing resumes for future use.

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