Random Fact Sheet #287 – The Oddball Chronicles: 30 Eccentric Facts

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1Georgia refinery explosion

Georgia refinery explosion

Sugar can be dangerously explosive. In 2008, 14 people died and 40 were injured when sugar dust combusted at Imperial Sugar's refinery in Georgia. A U.S. Chemical Safety Board report found that the explosion was entirely preventable. The sugar industry has been aware of explosion risks since 1926.

2. When filming the original Borat film, Sacha Baron Cohen never washed Borat's suit or wore deodorant when in character. He said it gave Borat a "kind of dreadful Soviet-bloc smell the moment I walk in."

3. When an inmate enters San Pedro Prison they have to purchase a cell. They can purchase a cell from the prison mayor or freelance agents who typically advertises available cells in restaurants and bulletin boards. Housing in the prison varies between $20 and $5,000 depending on the quality.

4. Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, said the only animal he was uncomfortable working around were parrots.

5. Russian born human rights activist Vladimir Bukovsky spent a total of 12 years in psychiatric hospitals, labor camps, and prisons of the Soviet Union. During his time in prison, he co-wrote manual instructing victims of political psychiatry how to behave during interrogation to avoid being diagnosed as mentally ill.

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6Taxi Dance Halls

Taxi Dance Halls

Taxi Dance Halls of the late 1920s and early ‘30s were dance halls where lonely men looking for human contact paid 10 cents a song to dance with women for a few minutes. In 1931, there were at least 100 taxi dance halls in New York, visited by up to 50,000 men each week.

7. Several people walked out of every screening of Reservoir Dogs at the Sundance film festival because of its graphic violence, including horror movie director Wes Craven best known for his A Nightmare On Elm Street films.

8. Each US state manages a federally-allocated fund to support victims of crime. If you are the victim of a crime, you can apply for reimbursement for medical services, mental health counseling, lost wages, and other costs incurred as a result of the crime.

9. When he accepted the role of Scrooge in A Muppet Christmas Carol, Michael Caine said he wanted to play it, "like I'm working with the Royal Shakespeare Company," as if there were no puppets around him. On the set, he had to walk across narrow planks between the Muppets and their performers.

10. During the Revolution, British Captain Patrick Ferguson refused an opportunity to shoot a passing American officer in the back. Historians say there is a very good chance that the officer was George Washington. Ferguson was later killed at the battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.

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11Ringelmann effect

Ringelmann effect

The Ringelmann effect is the tendency for individual members of a group to become increasingly less productive as the size of their group increases. As more people are involved in a task, their average performance decreases, each participant tending to feel that their own effort is not critical.

12. There is a blood sport known as Spider Fighting, where two spiders are placed on opposite ends of a stick and pushed towards the middle to fight one another. In 2002, inmates in a Florida prison got into a fight resulting in life threatening injuries over the theft of a pet fighting spider.

13. Airplanes that fly the advertising banners do not take off with the signs. They lower a grappling hook and grab them from the ground.

14. Tom Hanks, who played Mr. Rogers in “ A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood”, is Mr. Rogers’ sixth cousin.

15. The Myers-Briggs personality test was developed by a mother (Katharine Cook Briggs) and daughter (Isabel Briggs Myers) team, neither of whom had any formal psychology education. They studied agriculture and political science respectively.

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16Mercy Dogs

Mercy Dogs

Mercy Dogs or Red Cross Dogs would go out into the warzone to find wounded soldiers. They brought medical supplies for the soldiers to patch themselves up or if the soldier was mortally wounded, stay and comfort them in their final moments.

17. Domesticated blueberries are only just over 100 years old and were thought to be impossible to domesticate until it was discovered they thrive in acidic soil.

18. Beethoven loved his coffee so much that he had his own recipe. It consisted of 60 beans. Not 59, not 61, but precisely 60. He would drop them into a cup separately and sometimes do a second recount. He also had a special apparatus for preparing it.

19. The lyricist for the theme song of the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon (Spider-Man! Spider-Man! Does whatever a spider can!) won three Academy Awards for Best Original Song and was nominated 16 times for the award.

20. During the U.S. Civil War, Andrew Carnegie was drafted for the Army; however, rather than serve, he paid another man $850 to report for duty in his place, a common practice at the time.

21Battle Royale

Battle Royale

The Japanese film Battle Royale (2000) is banned in South Korea and took 11 years before it was released in the United States and Canada. The film was banned in Germany in 2013, but this was later overturned. Quentin Tarantino considers Battle Royale to be one of his favourite films.

22. The Chimney Sweepers Act of 1788 was a British Act of Parliament passed to stop child labor, as boys as young as four were being used as chimney sweeps. The Act raised the minimum age to eight years old.

23. American public official Robert Moses built bridges across his parkways low in order to "restrict the use of state parks by poor and lower-middle-class families," who did not own cars and would arrive by bus.

24. While 4-8% of people have at least one food allergy, a large proportion of people in developed countries believe they have food allergies when they actually do not have them.

25. Renowned scientist Michael Faraday, whose work on electromagnetism made him one of the most influential physicists in history, had little formal education. In particular, his knowledge of maths extended only to the simplest algebra, and he was unaware of trigonometry.

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