Random Fact Sheet #190 – Unleash Your Inner Trivia Buff: 35 Facts

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Two inmates sued the state of Alabama, claiming that the cramped space in their cell was a cruel and unusual punishment. The state argued that students at the Auburn University actually paid to live in even smaller living space in the Magnolia Dorm. The inmates lost the case.

2. In 1951, Thelma Howard was hired as a maid for Walt and Lillian Disney. Walt would gift her shares of Disney stock every X-mas for the next 30 years. When she died in 1994 it was discovered that she still had all of the 192,000 shares which were valued at that time at $9,000,000. It went to disadvantaged kids and her disabled son.

3. A 7-year-old boy named Tyler Moon walked 1 km (0.6 miles) through a forest to save his father’s life after their quad crashed. Tyler made the journey to get help despite his own injuries. He suffered from two collapsed lungs filling with blood and seven broken ribs. He managed to alert help just in time before collapsing himself. Both of them survived.

4. Disney's 1994 film The Lion King was made by their B-team of animators. The company expected Pocahontas to be the bigger hit and had their A-team make that movie.

5. Steve Martin's wedding came as a surprise to his guests. The roughly 75 star-studded attendees (including the likes of Tom Hanks, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, and Carl Reiner) said that he had invited them to his house just for a "party." To their shock, upon their arrival, his wedding began.

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6Matt Murphy

Matt Murphy

Matt Murphy, the man who caught Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run ball, sold the ball for $752,467 and gave half to Amir Kamal, the friend he was at the game with.

7. There is a man named Ioannis Ikonomou in the European Commission who works as a translator and can speak 47 languages, including 21 of the 24 EU official languages. He can also speak dead languages like Old Church Slavic.

8. There is a library in Ankara, Turkey comprised entirely of discarded books trash collectors rescued from landfills. The collection grew so large the library now loans the salvaged books to schools, educational programs, and even prisons.

9. On American metal band Tool's 1996 album, Ænima, there is an aggressive and intimidation song sung in German titled "Die Eier Von Satan" ("The Balls Of Satan"). However, when translated to English, the lyrics reveal themselves to be a recipe for hashish sugar cookies.

10. The film "The Killing Fields" cast a real-life survivor of the Cambodian Genocide. Haing S. Ngor survived three terms in Cambodian Prison camp by eating insects. He went on to win an Academy Award for supporting actor. His fate ended by being murdered by an LA street gang in 1996.

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11Minnie Freeman

Minnie Freeman

In 1888, a teacher named Minnie Freeman saved all of her students after a freak blizzard struck in Nebraska. The winds were so strong that the roof and the door just blew off of the school. She saved them by using a rope. She tied the kids together and trekked over a mile in whiteout conditions to the closest farmhouse.

12. In 1938, early aviator Douglas Corrigan was denied permission to fly from New York to Ireland. Since he was denied he planned to fly to California instead. 28 hours later he arrived in Ireland, telling officials that he must have mistakenly gone the wrong way.

13. President Gerald Ford stood up for civil rights in 1934 by threatening to quit his college football team, unless they let Willis Ward (African American) play against the south’s Georgia Tech. He agreed to play only after Ward asked him to because they couldn’t afford to lose that game.

14. Indians are relearning Sanskrit and reviving the ancient language, with 10,000 new speakers in 2010 alone.

15. Dogs’ facial expressions are not just random face movements. These facial expressions are actually tools to communicate with their owners. According to the study, the researchers inched toward the conclusion that dogs are smiling at us.

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16Passenger Pigeon

Passenger Pigeon

The Lyme disease was not as common in the past as it is now, and its prevalence is actually due to an explosion in the white-footed mouse population at the turn of the 20th century. This, in turn, coincides with the extinction of the mouse's primary ecological competitor: the passenger pigeon.

17. During the French Revolution, Louis XVI ordered the arrest of a judge named D'Epremesnil. When the arresting officers came to the Palais de Justice, they did not know D'Epremesnil by sight, so all the judges stood up and cried "We are all D'Epremesnil!". No arrests were made that day. 

18. Uncle Tom was actually the hero that stood up against slavers but pro-slavery works created afterward poisoned the name "Uncle Tom."

19. Henry "Box" Brown escaped slavery in the American south by mailing himself to freedom. He had friends pack him into a small box, and ship him as cargo from Richmond to Philadelphia. He survived and went on to work as a magician.

20. Some European countries have a "Freedom to Roam", which means that you can freely go into private land for recreation as long as you don't cause any problems.

21Fritz Suhren

Fritz Suhren

When the allies were close, Fritz Suhren, a concentration camp commandant took Odette Sansom, an inmate whom he believed to be Churchill's niece, and drove with her to the US base, hoping it would save him. She was, in fact, a British spy under a false name. He was hanged in 1950.

22. Killer-whale mothers often stay with their adult sons for their whole lives. Killer-whale mothers also help their sons find mating opportunities to increase their chances of becoming grandmothers.

23. At the temperature -20°C or below Emperor Penguins form a huddle (like rugby players) to stay warm. The temperature inside the huddle sometimes gets so hot (37°C) that some penguins come out and eat ice to cool off a bit.

24. During World War 2 when General Patton got in trouble for slapping a shell shocked soldier, his punishment was to command an inflatable army of decoy tanks in England to divert Germany's attention from a potential attack at Normandy. This proved to be essential to the success of the D-Day invasions.

25. In 1728, the philosopher Voltaire got rich by outsmarting the lottery. The prize money was larger than the cost of all the tickets combined, so Voltaire and his friend formed a syndicate, bought all the tickets, and won several times.

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