Random Fact Sheet #81 – 40 Facts That Will Leave You in Disbelief

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1The Saga Begins

The Saga Begins

The Saga Begins, Weird Al Yankovic's parody of the song "American Pie" where he lays out the plot of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, was written almost entirely based on internet spoilers.


2. There is an artificial hill named Monte Testaccio in Italy which is over 100 feet tall and made entirely of empty olive oil pots that have been carefully placed over a period of 250 years by ancient Romans.


3. The oldest known surviving pair of socks (300-500 A.D.) were intended to be worn with sandals.


4. Famous pianist Glenn Gould was once called up to play Beethoven's Concerto No. 5 on one day's notice after not having played it four years. He played it flawlessly on live tv from memory.


5. Benjamin Franklin was the originator of raising taxes to pay for lower-income families to do public service for a wage. City sweepers were the original public service job of the 1700s.


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6Rorschach test

Rorschach test

According to a 1980s study, 80% of normal individuals taking the Rorschach test are found to have 'depression or serious character problems'. The test is still in widespread use, millions of people take it each year, and it is still used as evidence in American courts.


7. Farmers Union Iced Coffee out-sells Coke in South Australia by almost three to one, making it the only place in the world where a milk drink is more popular than cola.


8. The word “magi” (or the singular “magus”) refers to followers of Zoroastrianism, an ancient Persian religion whose modern-day adherents included Freddie Mercury. “Magi” also gave rise to the “magic” and “magician,” as Zoroastrians were known to practice astrology and alchemy.


9. Garfield was never intended to be funny. It was a conscious (and very successful) effort to create a comic strip that would be marketable and make money, not laughs.


10. The idiom "Turning a blind eye" is attributed to Admiral Horatio Nelson who, in the midst of battle and given the permission to retreat by his superior, lifted the telescope to his eye (blinded from an earlier injury) and said "I really do not see the signal" and pressed on with the attack.


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11Moon Treaty

Moon Treaty

There is a Moon Treaty signed and ratified that gives the U.N. dominion over all "celestial bodies" including asteroids. The only countries to not sign the treaty all have active space programs (U.S., Russia, China).


12. After António de Oliveira Salazar, the dictator of Portugal suffered a brain hemorrhage, he was expected to die shortly after and was replaced. When he awoke, rather than tell him, his aides continually gave him fake papers to sign and he was made to believe he was still in power for the next two years of his life.


13. Nearly all the bread clips (those flat, U-shaped pieces of plastic) are produced by one family-owned company in Yakima, Washington. The Kwik Lok Corporation has an almost complete monopoly. The first clip was carved from a credit card. The company exports billions of bread clips a year.


14. Ella Slack is the stand-in for Queen Elizabeth II and takes her place for rehearsals of ‘televised engagements’. However, she’s not allowed to sit on the throne and has to ‘hover’ if she’s required to help frame certain shots.


15. There is a rare type of fluffy frost called hair ice that only forms on rotting wood. It baffled scientists for decades until 2015, when scientists determined that fungal activity was largely responsible for this kind of ice formation.


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16Robert Alton Harris

Robert Alton Harris

The last words of American murderer Robert Alton Harris were, “You can be a king or a street sweeper, but everyone dances with the grim reaper.”


17. The Spanish Flu is only referred to as such because Spain was not involved in World War 1. Its press did not censor the widespread deaths as other countries did to improve wartime morale.


18. A 2011 study showed that a group of 4-year-olds had a temporary lapse in cognitive function after watching 9 minutes of SpongeBob SquarePants.


19. In 1698, Peter The Great introduced the “Beard Tax” after he visited Western Europe and liked their fashion sense. Anyone with a beard was forced to pay tax for it and in turn given a beard token. If you were stopped by the police without the token they would immediately shave your face on sight.


20. After the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, the prime minister of Portugal sent a query to parishes around the country in order to objectively understand what happened. He is now regarded as a forerunner of modern seismological scientists.


21Marcus Glindon

Marcus Glindon

In 2007, a man named Marcus Glindon in England counterfeited 14 million one pound coins.


22. Kublai Khan, although known as a warlord, promoted education and built over 20,000 public schools during his reign.


23. Cartoon characters are depicted as wearing gloves as it eliminated the complexity of drawing a well-defined hand back in the days when they had to manually draw a new drawing per frame for numerous frames.


24. The influenza virus that killed 50–100 million people worldwide in 1918 was genetically reconstructed from tissue samples in 2005. The virus is currently held at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia.


25. A New Jersey man named Francis LeRoy Henning minted hundreds of thousands of counterfeit nickels in the 1950s, some of which still exist in circulation today.

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