Random Fact Sheet #186 – The Surprising Side of Life: 40 Facts

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1Bob Gunton

Bob Gunton

The film 'The Shawshank Redemption' remains one of the most valuable assets in Warner Brothers catalog (which has several multi-billion dollar movie franchises) and Bob Gunton (the warden) still makes six figures a year from it.

2. 60% of a cow is used for food, and parts of the other 40% can be made into antifreeze, blood thinners, insulin, marshmallows, and toothpaste.

3. Mr. Rogers once used an egg timer and simply let it run for 60 seconds on a television broadcast—in order to demonstrate how long a minute is. Unlike most TV made for kids, "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood" was deliberately slow and contemplative.

4. The Bee Gees were going to lip sync to a record in the local Gaumont cinema, but as they were running to the theatre, the fragile shellac 78-RPM record broke. The brothers had to sing live and received such a positive response from the audience that they decided to pursue a singing career.

5. Abraham Lincoln had an incredibly high-pitched voice that was described as shrill, sharp, and unpleasant.

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Ancient Sumeria elected ‘Substitute Kings’ during eclipses to protect the king from a prophecy of death. Once a real king named ‘Erra-imitti’ suddenly died while eating hot porridge and his substitute, ‘Enlil-Bani’ formerly a random gardener, stayed king for 24 years.

7. Liver of polar bears is so rich in vitamin-A that it is considered poisonous. When hunting them, the livers are buried or burned to prevent the hunter's dogs from eating them.

8. The Turkish Embassy in D.C. played a vital role in desegregating the Jazz scene. Two teenage sons of the ambassador would often organize events in the embassy inviting black and white artists to perform together. One of these sons went on to start Atlantic Records.

9. People used to gather around paintings at well-to-do parties identifying hard-to-spot things for fun, a game that was essentially I Spy but for the wealthy and educated. 

10. The Honus Wagner card is the most expensive baseball card in the world. It is so rare because it was sold by the 'American Tobacco Company'. Wagner was a nonsmoker and he threatened to seek legal action against ATC so they stopped producing it.

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11Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins

Anthony Hopkins composed a waltz in 1964 that was only released years later. The famous actor was afraid that nobody would like it and therefore never got to hear it being played up until 2011 thanks to André Rieu - a Dutch violinist who got sent the music sheets by Hopkins' wife.

12. Burmese pythons have overrun the Florida Everglades partly as a result of Hurricane Andrew destroying a breeding facility in 1992, which released hundreds of snakes.

13. After being stung by the Warrior Wasp, sting pain index creator Justin Schmidt described the pain as, “torture, like you are chained in the flow of an active volcano. Why did I start this list?”

14. Hugh Hefner published nude pictures of Marilyn Monroe without her permission in the first edition of Playboy magazine. He later purchased the crypt beside her's even though they had never met in life.

15. Both of Jon Hamm's parents passed away by the time he turned 20 and when he was 24 he moved to Los Angeles with nothing but his car and $150 to pursue acting.

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The Inuit way to teach kids to control anger is by using storytelling to discipline and not acting out.

17. 2 students were arrested and sentenced to 7 years in prison, in Portugal for "raising a toast to freedom" in 1960. The news of this inspired British lawyer Peter Benenson to lay down the foundation for one of the largest human rights organizations in the world, the Amnesty International.

18. When foxes discovered fairy penguins on a small Australian island, they nearly wiped the colony out. A chicken farmer named Swampy Marsh then began sending Maremma dogs to protect the birds. Over the next 10 years, not a single penguin was killed by a fox.

19. Hitting a fruit tree can make it feel threatened, spurring it to produce more or larger fruit to distribute seeds before dying.

20. 150 people die each year from falling coconuts, compared to 5 a year from shark attacks. One newspaper in Australia dubbed coconuts "the killer fruit."

21Stephen Hawking's ashes

Stephen Hawking's ashes

Stephen Hawking’s ashes are buried beneath a memorial stone inscribed with his equation for the Hawking temperature of black holes. To commemorate his death, Hawking’s own words were beamed towards the nearest known black hole to Earth, about 3,500 light years away, by the European Space Agency.

22. Fresh, sealed meat would be purple. So meat packagers add carbon monoxide to turn it bright red.

23. Leslie David Baker, who played Stanley Hudson on “The Office,” was a teacher for special needs children before he was an actor.

24. The average person will spend 4 months of their life just waiting for red lights to change to green.

25. In 1988, McDonald’s gave out flexi-disc records where a group of singers rapped the entire McDonalds menu. “The McDonald’s Menu Song” was an instant-win promotion. If you could memorize it and played it through to the end without making a mistake, you would win $1 million.

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