Random #383 – 50 Random Facts Spanning a Spectrum of Subjects

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1Hitler Museum Bomb Plot

Hitler Museum Bomb Plot

In an attempt to assassinate Hitler, a Nazi officer named Rudolf-Christoph von Gersdorff hid two timebombs in his jacket and led Hitler on a tour of a museum. Hitler raced through the museum and left before the bombs exploded. Rudolf therefore had to rush to the bathroom, where he defused the bombs "at the last second."


2. A football player lied to his team about being in graduate school. The Baltimore Ravens thought that John Urschel was taking classes at MIT part-time. The team did not know that he was a full-time PhD math student. Urschel studied from the end of the Sunday games until practice on Tuesday.


3. Keanu Reeves grew up with such showbiz connections that Alice Cooper was once his babysitter.


4. The "20Q" (20 questions) handheld game, a toy released in 2003 and famous for its scary level of accuracy, actually used a basic implementation of an AI neural network. It used training data gathered from users of a web-based implementation of the game, which launched in 1994.


5. Mark McGwire's 70th home run was caught by fan Phil Ozersky. After the Cardinals offered him a signed bat, ball, and jersey for baseball, Ozersky asked to be able to meet McGwire too in this exchange, but McGwire said no. Ozersky kept the baseball, which he later sold for over $3 million.


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6Keith Richards' Lennon Pursuit

Keith Richards' Lennon Pursuit

After John Lennon's murder, Keith Richards, who was a few miles south of the Dakota at the time, got his own gun and went searching through the streets for the killer.


7. On August 27, 1853, Abraham Lincoln led a ceremony by the railroad tracks in Lincoln, Illinois, to mark the founding of the new town named after him. Lincoln "christened" the railroad trackside with watermelon juice.


8. The Seinfeld episode "The Contest" was based on a real-life bet Larry David made against a friend of his to find out who could go the longest without masturbating. The amount of the bet is unknown; however, it lasted only a few days, resulting in David winning.


9. Nearly half of South Korean residential rentals use the "jeonse" system, where the renter gives an interest-free loan to the landlord based on the house's price in lieu of rent.


10. Seuss didn't have a big hit until age 53, when "Cat in the Hat" was published. He resisted writing his own life story and only sat down for two interviews near the end, when he was dying from cancer.


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11King's Custom Chairs

King's Custom Chairs

The King of Tonga, Tāufaʻāhau Tupou IV, stood at a towering height of 195cm (6'5") and weighed an impressive 195kg (440lb). During his visits to Germany, the German government specially commissioned chairs to support his weight, which he took home, considering them state gifts.


12. Actresses Kate and Rooney Mara hail from NFL families. Their mother belongs to the family that owns the Pittsburgh Steelers (the Rooneys), while their father is part of the family that owns the New York Giants (the Maras).


13. Yi Sun-Sin, the legendary Korean admiral who never lost a battle against the Japanese, often emerged victorious against overwhelming odds. Surprisingly, before the onset of that war, he had never commanded a naval battle. Initially a cavalry officer, he had only been in the navy for two years.


14. Tolkien faced a moral dilemma while creating orcs. Intended to be a purely evil race for the heroes to vanquish without remorse, the orcs demonstrated an awareness of morality and could communicate. According to Tolkien's beliefs, this complexity suggested they couldn't be entirely evil and should be shown mercy if possible.


15. The Sphinx, constructed around 4500 years ago, was buried in sand approximately 400 years after its completion. In 1400 B.C., Thutmose IV attempted to excavate the Sphinx but only succeeded in uncovering its front paws. It remained largely buried until 1887 A.D., enduring nearly 4000 years of obscurity.


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16Sacred Lake Ownership Dispute

Sacred Lake Ownership Dispute

For thousands of years, the Syilx people and other Canadian First Nations have revered a sacred medicine lake adorned with 365 naturally formed "spots." Despite a non-Indigenous individual's attempt to convert it into a spa, ownership of the lake was reclaimed by the First Nations, necessitating permission for visitation.


17. Roman emperor Tiberius once personally resolved a murder case: A senator's wife tragically fell from a window. Upon hearing the husband's testimony, Tiberius opted to inspect the scene himself. His examination revealed signs of struggle, leading to a report to the Senate. Subsequently, the husband was found guilty.


18. In 1984, Marvel secured trademarks including "Hulk Hogan," "Hulkster," and "Hulkamania" for a span of 20 years, while the WWF agreed to refrain from referring to Hogan as "incredible" or "Hulk" and from dressing him in purple or green attire. Additionally, Marvel received $100 for each Hulk Hogan match and 10% of earnings under this name.


19. Prior to the 1872 photo series 'Horse in Motion', the mechanics of a galloping horse's leg movements remained a mystery due to its rapid pace, imperceptible to the naked eye. Before this discovery, horses were often depicted with their legs stretched out at both ends, a portrayal inconsistent with any actual horse gait.


20. Pistachios have a tendency to undergo spontaneous combustion, necessitating stringent precautions during mass transport.


21Frankfurt's Mediterranean Microclimate

Frankfurt's Mediterranean Microclimate

Frankfurt boasts a neighborhood with a Mediterranean microclimate, thanks to sunlight reflecting off the river and wind resistance, where even palms and bananas flourish, known as "The Nizza."


22. Sutton's law of medicine advocates considering the most obvious diagnosis first. Derived from a purported interview with bank robber Willie Sutton, who explained his choice of target by stating "because that's where the money is."


23. Nazi officer Otto Skorzeny faced a war crime trial for allegedly deploying American military uniforms in battle but was acquitted after successfully arguing that they had discarded the uniforms before engaging in combat. Later, he was liberated from prison by individuals disguised in American military attire.


24. Three sailors who perished in Pearl Harbor have incorrect dates inscribed on their gravestones. Trapped underwater in the West Virginia battleship for 16 days post-bombing, their ordeal remained largely concealed, with most of their relatives passing away unaware of the truth.


25. Astronaut Scott Kelly received compensation at a rate of $70 per hour from NASA until his retirement, whereupon his pay was reduced to $10 per hour to account for debriefings and participation in medical tests. Kelly accumulated 520 days in space across four missions.

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