Random Fact Sheet #173 – 30 Mundane to Marvelous Facts

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1Keira Knightley

Keira Knightley

In 2007, Keira Knightley was awarded £3,000 ($6,000) in damages from a lawsuit against Daily Mail for publishing an article about her having anorexia nervosa and added another £3,000 to this amount to donate to Beat, a charity for those who suffer mental illness and eating disorders.

2. Between 1933 and 1941, the Chinese city of Shanghai accepted unconditionally over 18,000 Jewish people escaping Europe during World War 2. This was more than Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and British India combined.

3. Frances Kelsey, the physician who refused to allow the deadly drug Thalidomide from entering circulation into the US in the 1960s, saved numerous American infants from disfiguration and birth defects.

4. In 1863, John Burns, who a resident of Gettysburg Pennsylvania, at the age of 70 insisted on joining the Union line with his outdated flintlock rifle. He shot a Confederate officer from his horse, fought with the Iron Brigade, was wounded several times, duped Confederate doctors into mending him, and snuck home.

5. More than 90% of consumers have thrown away food because of mistaken safety fears over date labels. The dates printed on food are not intended to communicate safety information, instead, they signal the manufacturer's estimate of how long that food will taste its best.

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When astronauts vote from space, they list their address as "low-Earth orbit" in their absentee ballots.

7. As of January 2019, actor Val Kilmer (Top Gun, Batman Forever) has been fighting throat cancer and had a procedure on his trachea that has reduced his voice to a rasp.

8. A train dispatcher named Patrick Vincent Coleman died saving hundreds of lives during the Halifax Explosion. His final message was “Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye, boys.”

9. Humans have been sailing for 8,000 years, about 1500 years longer than we have been using wheels.

10. A cat in heat can have multiple eggs, and they can be released over several days of her cycle. If Tabby has chosen more than one Tom during her heat cycle, it's possible she'll be carrying kittens from multiple fathers.

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11Irish Elk

Irish Elk

The Irish Elk was an extinct species of deer that weighed over 1,000lbs and carried antlers up to 12 feet wide.

12. The eruption of Vesuvius in 79 C.E. destroyed the city of Pompeii and buried its library in ash. Texts from that library are now being read for the first time in two thousand years.

13. Jimi Hendrix played guitar in Little Richard's band until he was fired for being too flamboyant, out-dressing, and upstaging the singer.

14. During the 2013 Westgate shopping mall attack in Kenya, an ex SAS member and former Irish soldier joined forces to rescue victims of the shooting, organized police to attempt a counter-attack and evaded gunfire while rescuing people still trapped in the mall.

15. NY Rangers fan still chant "Potvin S*cks" at every game, against every team, even though Denis Potvin retired from the NY Islanders in 1988.

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16Salt mine

Salt mine

The city of Detroit sits on top of a working salt mine, and that the mine has provided road salt for most of North America since 1910.

17. Despite being studied since its discovery in 1906, scientists have yet to rule out a germ origin for Alzheimer's disease. The infectious hypothesis could explain why neurosurgeons are twice and a half more likely to die from it than the general population.

18. Red tape was actually used to bind government documents and you had to literally cut through them to get stuff done. And you can buy pieces of US red tape from the National Archives.

19. The prize for the Val d'Isere downhill ski competition in 2005 was a cow. The organizers intended to trade the cow for a $5000, but Olympian Lindsey Vonn declined and kept the cow. It was later found to be worth $20,000.

20. The term "silhouette" has a political backstory. King Louis XV's General of Finances, Étienne de Silhouette, had a reputation for being cheap. Shadow portraits became popular during his tenure and got named after him due to being very cheap to make compared to commissioning a painting of oneself.

21Black sheep

Black sheep

'A black sheep' is unlucky because its wool could not be dyed.

22. The last Saturday of each month in Rwanda is Umuganda day, which means 'coming together in common purpose' when adult Rwandans are required to join in countrywide clean-up tasks like picking up litter.

23. A Wisconsin man named Don Gorske has eaten over 30,000 Big Mac hamburgers over 46 years, averaging 2 per day. He has only missed 8 days in those 46 years, including when his mother died as she requested he forgoes the burger in her memory.

24. In English Criminal Law, you cannot kill a person for food, even out of necessity. In 1884, three sailors were stuck out at sea and killed the weakest one for food. After being rescued, they were found guilty of murder. This set a legal precedent which continues today.

25. Chip pans are the single largest cause of fires in the United Kingdom, causing over 12,000 each year. Some cities even offer chip pan 'amnesty' programs where you can trade in your outdated deep-sided chip pan for a deep-fryer.

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