Random Revelations: Article #95- 33 Absurdly Interesting Random Facts

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1Ulysses S. Grant's autobiography

Ulysses S. Grant's autobiography

Ulysses S. Grant's autobiography was sold by 10,000 agents, many of whom were former Union soldiers who canvassed the northern states while wearing their old uniforms. It was a method devised by Mark Twain, the publisher. It made a fortune for Grant's widow, who received a 75% royalty.


2. Hand soap doesn't actually kill the germs. Instead, it weakens the structure they are holding onto so that you can wash them right off.


3. The inventors of Hot Wheels (Elliot Handler) and the Barbie dolls (Ruth Handler) were married for over two decades before either toy was invented. Barbie and Ken were named after their children.


4. In 2010, a papyrus document featuring Cleopatra's handwriting went on display at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute. The document refers to a tax break for a friend of her husband Mark Antony. Cleopatra signed it with a Greek word meaning "make it happen".


5. A condemned ship filled with animals sailed over Niagara Falls as part of a tourism stunt. In 1827, William Forsyth, an investor in the Falls, concocted the idea to draw in more tourism. The ship held Buffalo, bears, raccoons, a dog, and a goose. Some 10,000 people watched it sail over the edge.


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6James Robert Ringrose

James Robert Ringrose

When James Robert Ringrose, one of FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, was arrested in 1966, he presented the FBI agents with a "Get out of jail free" card from Monopoly.


7. The sharks built for the movie Jaws were collectively named "Bruce," a tribute to Steven Spielberg's lawyer. Bruce the Fish Friendly Shark from Finding Nemo was also a reference to Jaws.


8. During the Cuban missile crisis, John F. Kennedy said: “Why does he put these in there, though? … It’s just as if we suddenly began to put a major number of MRBMs (Medium-range ballistic missile) in Turkey. Now that’d be goddamned dangerous, I would think.” His advisor immediately pointed out: “Well we did it, Mr. President.”


9. The Atacama Desert in South America is the driest nonpolar place in the world. Some weather stations there have never received rain and evidence suggests that the Atacama may not have had any significant rainfall from 1570 to 1971.


10. American actor Harold Ramis took meth right before his military draft physical to get out of the Vietnam war.


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11Eugène François Vidocq

Eugène François Vidocq

The father of modern policing (Eugène François Vidocq) was a former criminal turned detective who refused to arrest anyone who stole out of necessity.


12. The United States invaded Canada in 1812. Former President Thomas Jefferson predicted that the "acquisition of Canada (..) will be a mere matter of marching". However, it went terribly. After a few months, the entire Michigan territory had fallen.


13. After a plane crash that wiped out almost the entire Russian National Hockey team in 1950, Stalin's son (Vasily Stalin) feared his father's reaction and recruited a new team in one day and his father did not even notice.


14. Underwater basket weaving has been used as a pejorative term for excessively easy/useless/niche courses for at least the past 65 years.


15. It took 49 years to publish the first authoritative English dictionary. It took 5 years to publish the first part, A to Ant.


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16Bucket hats

Bucket hats

Bulgarians refer to bucket hats as "idiotka", which means idiot hats.


17. Michael Jackson couldn't read or write music. Instead, he fully realized music in his head and recorded himself singing the different parts on a cassette recorder.


18. Bog butter is an ancient waxy substance often found buried in peat bogs that was used as a way of preserving butter in ancient Ireland. The butter would gain flavor notes from its surroundings that were namely described as “gamey,” “moss,” “funky,” “pungent,” and “salami.”


19. Johnny Stompanato was a bodyguard and mafia enforcer for Mickey Cohen. He dated actress Lana Turner who he physically abused. On April 4th, 1958 after threatening the life of Turner, her mother, and daughter he was stabbed to death by Turner's 14-year-old daughter (Cheryl Crane).


20. Some chimpanzees have been observed sharpening sticks with their teeth and using them as spears to hunt small mammals.


21Male rhesus macaque monkeys

Male rhesus macaque monkeys

Male rhesus macaque monkeys will pay to look at pictures of female rhesus macaques' bottoms.


22. There is a species of samurai ant (Polyergus samurai) that is known to raid rival species nests, kill all the rival ants, collect the rivals eggs, and raise those hatched ants as slaves.


23. Seattle's Space Needle is an example of Googie architecture, a type that flourished in the post-World War 2 era and was parodied on The Jetsons. It was named after the West Hollywood Googie's Coffee Shop designed in 1949 by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.


24. The city of Detroit has its own local currency, fully backed by U.S. currency. It's printed in $3 bills and features the Spirit of Detroit over the Detroit Skyline.


25. After India, the state of Texas now has the world's second-largest tiger population.

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