Monday, December 27, 2010


'Lincoln Logs’, the popular toy, was invented by John Lloyd Wright, son of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright

Sulfuric Acid is the most produced chemical in the U.S.  - It is soluble in water in all concentrations, and has many applications from being used in automobile batteries to lawn fertilizer

In 1941, the U.S. government banned silk stockings because Japan cut off America’s silk supply during World War II, and the government needed the material to produce parachutes for its military paratroopers

A cat’s ability to see well at night is due to its taptum, a membrane that reflects the light from the back of the cat’s eye

It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament in a suit of armor

Despite the horrific display, nearly two-thirds of those who were on board the Hindenburg survived its 1937 fire and destruction as the German airship was attempting to dock with its mooring mast near Lakehurst, New Jersey  (Pictured below the fire has barely engulfed half of the zeppelin, but in the end the entire airship would succumb to the flames)

Duct tape was developed in 1942 for use by the U.S. Army as a waterproof sealing tape for ammunition boxes - NASA engineers and astronauts have used duct tape in the course of their work, including in some emergency situations. One such usage occurred in 1970, when the square carbon dioxide filters from Apollo 13's failed command module had to be modified to fit round receptacles in the lunar module, which was being used as a lifeboat after an explosion en route to the moon. A workaround was made using duct tape and other items on board Apollo 13, with the ground crew relaying directions to the spacecraft and its crew. The lunar module CO2 scrubbers started working again, saving the lives of the three astronauts on board

http:// (in web URLs) stands for Hyper Text Transfer Protocol - URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator, and in common usage is often referred to as a website's "address"

Tuesday Island, Wednesday Island, Thursday Island and Friday Island all exist in the Torres Strait off the coast of Australia

Robert Lincoln, son of President Lincoln, was saved from a railroad accident by Edwin Booth. Edwin was the brother of Abraham Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and he saved the life the younger Lincoln shortly before his brother would go on to assassinate of the President.  Booth shoved Lincoln to safety from falling off a train platform while the train was in motion

The male Satin Bower Bird, found on the east coast of Australia, builds its bower (ground nest) with twigs and then decorates the nest with blue (sometimes yellow or shiny) objects it finds to attract a mate. Many people who live nearby have found long lost objects in the bowers such as car keys, toys, clothes pegs, and anything it finds and can carry back

In the 16th century, gin was referred to as “mother’s ruin” because people thought it could induce abortions

The first Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue featured model Babette March on the cover sporting a modest two-piece. The issue came out in January of 1964

A yellow baseball (thought to be more visible to batters, fielders and spectators) was tested in a 1938 college game in New York City, between Fordham and Columbia

Richard Hollingshead of Camden, New Jersey, built the first drive-in theater in his driveway in 1933. The theater consisted of a sheet strung between two trees and a movie projector mounted to the hood of his car. The setup was reportedly inspired by his mother: she was a large woman who was uncomfortable in the seats at regular movie theaters

Bridgestone Corporation, maker of the Bridgestone tires, is a Japanese company. The name is derived from founder Shojiro Ishibashi’s last name, which translates literally to “stone bridge”

Several of the founders of the United States warned against allowing banks to be established - Thomas Jefferson even referred to them as being more dangerous than standing armies

Charlie Chaplin once entered in a Charlie Chaplin look-alike contest in a theater in San Francisco - he lost

Once planted, peach seeds can grow nectarine trees (and vice versa)

Only about one-fifth of the world’s largest desert, the Sahara, is covered with sand; the remainder is made up of rock formations

Edible "dirt" has recently appeared on the menus of several of the world's most renowned restaurants (e.g., the top-rated Noma in Copenhagen, Shakuf in Tel Aviv, Gilt in New York City). "People are really wowed to see dirt on their plates," said Gilt's head chef.  Actually, the "dirt" only looks and feels like dirt. Each chef creates signature tastes from dried or charred powders with the appearance and consistency of sand, soil, or ash--from a base of plants, vegetables, or eggs, or even dried beer. Said a reviewer, "These chefs are reminding people where food actually comes from"

Police in New Albany, Indianana, arrested two alleged counterfeiters in August but believed that a much bigger operation was in play.  Subsequently, the Indiana State Police made a public plea for informants, focusing on the people most likely to be cheated by counterfeit money: local drug dealers. "What we are asking today," said ISP Sgt. Jerry Goodin, "is we want all the drug dealers to call us. We want to get all of your information and exactly what happened in [any of your dealings]." Goodin added, "Trust us"

Playboy magazine has long published an audio edition, and the Library of Congress produces a text edition in Braille. However, as a Houston Chronicle reporter learned in August, a Texas organization (Taping for the Blind) goes one step further, with volunteer reader Suzi Hanks actually describing the photographs-- even the Playmates and other nudes. "I'd say if she has large breasts or small breasts, piercings or tattoos," said Hanks. "I'll describe her genitalia. I take my time describing the girls." "Hey, blind guys like pretty, naked girls, too!"

Doctors from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of Washington announced in September that they could just as well handle certain brain surgeries by access not in the traditional way through the top of the skull but by drilling holes in the nose and, more recently, the eye socket. (Since classic brain surgery requires that the top of the skull be temporarily removed, the breakthroughs mean fewer complications.) These innovations follow on the inroads in recent years in performing kidney-removal and gall- bladder surgery not by traditional abdominal incisions but through, respectively, the vagina and the anus 

Monday, December 20, 2010


Christian Hernandez, 21, making his big-time bullfighting debut at Plaza Mexico in Mexico City in June 2010, ran from the ring trembling in fear at the first sign of his bull. He was then coaxed to return, but once again fled and immediately submitted his resignation. Though Hernandez was contrite ("I didn't have the ability. I didn't have the balls."), he was arrested for violating his contract and released only after he paid a small fine

Rafflesia flowers can measure 3 feet across -- the biggest flowers of any plant. They are also the smelliest flowers, reeking of rotten meat. This is a trick designed to attract flies for pollination  (Pictured below a hiker poses next to a Rafflesia, which provides perspective on size)

American chemist Robert Hare discovered that a blowpipe flame acting upon a block of calcium oxide - which is lime - produces a brilliant white light that could be used to illuminate theater stages.  His invention was used for many years, and hence the phrase "Living in the limelight" which has come to mean 'living on stage' or as a celebrity with no privacy

All dogs are the same species, meaning that (notwithstanding the obvious physical challenge) a Chihuahua and a St. Bernard could procreate - all dogs genetically diverged from wolves about 15,000 years ago, which coincides with the time at which researchers believe domestication by humans began  (Pictured below are four "Labradoodles- dogs resulting from the mating of a Labrador Retriever and a Poodle)

Goerge Washington and Thomas Jefferson were both redheads

Hawaii is the only U.S. state that grows coffee

Skid Road orignated in Seattle. The road, Yesler Way, was used during the late 1800s to haul (skid) logs to Yesler saw mill at the bottom of the hill. It became a rather seedy district eventually, hence the term Skid Road - in modern American parlance, Skid Road has turned into "skid row" and refers to a seedy and dangerous part of town where indigent people engage in illegal activities such as drug use

Geologists believe that about half the unmined gold in the world is in South Africa

The fastest two-legged creature on Earth is the ostrich, which can reach 45 mph over short distances

Mapmakers will often insert a tiny piece of incorrect information in their maps to prevent the illegal reproduction of their work. Called a “copyright trap,” the fake text might be a bogus street name or even the mapmakers’ initials hidden in the corner of a city park - the fictitious information will then be called a "park trap" or "street trap" - (Pictured below is an example of a "street trap" using initials CL)

Chinese Checker is not Chinese. It was created in the US to circumvent the patent for a popular boardgame called Halma, invented by a Boston surgeon named George Howard Monks

The first American TV show to use “open captions,” that is, captioning for the hearing-impaired available on all TVs, was PBS’ The French Chef

In 1667, the Dutch purchased Manhattan for the low price of $24, but then traded it to England for the South American country of Suriname

The distance from the eastern tip to the western tip of the state of Texas is greater than the distance from New York City to Chicago

In order to better survive the cold, polar bears have evolved to have black skin, thick blubber, and hollow, translucent hair that trap heat. Polar bears are so well-insulated that they are almost invisible under infra-red light

Only 1% of all the readily accessible water on earth is drinkable

A sardine is not a species of fish, but a name that can apply to many small varieties of pickled fish, including herring and pilchard

Leatherback sea turtles have fleshy backward-pointing spines in their throats so that jellyfish, their favorite food, can be swallowed more easily - (Pictured below is the open mouth of a leatherback sea turtle that washed ashore in Provincetown, Massachusetts)

The term “Continental breakfast” was coined to differentiate between the fried eggs, bacon and beans (served in a typical English breakfast) from the dainty pastries, coffee and juice offered throughout the rest of Europe

Divorce is illegal in the Philippines - Even when Filipinos divorce elsewhere, the divorce is not recognized in the Philippines legal system

The arms of condemned prisoners are swabbed with alcohol prior to lethal injection in order to keep the area sterile

"Dog tags" that are worn by American military personnel are always worn in pairs in case of death of the soldier or officer; one tag remains with the body, and the other is sent to Mortuary Affairs - the identification tags are called "dog tags" because of their resemblance to the tags that many pet owners use for their dogs - (Pictured below is a set of identification tags used for a member of the American military)

The Sun's total lifetime as a star capable of maintaining a life-bearing Earth is about 11 billion years - Nearly half the time has passed

The once popular dog name “Fido” is from Latin and means “fidelity”

Incan soldiers invented the process of freeze-drying food. The process was primitive but effective – potatoes would be left outside to freeze overnight, then thawed and stomped on to remove excess water

Winnie, from Winnie the Pooh, was named after a bear at the London Zoo. The animal had been born in Canada but brought to London in 1914 as the mascot of a Canadian regiment 


Monday, December 13, 2010


Charles Lindbergh was named Time magazine’s first “Man of the Year” in 1927. But what turned into an annual tradition for the publication actually started as an apology: Time had embarrassingly left Lindbergh off the cover after his landmark solo flight and “Man of the Year” was their apology

Before finishing his education, earning a doctorate, and inventing the sport basketball, Dr. James Naismith was a high school dropout

Wood frogs are freeze-tolerant and spend winters frozen on land, only to thaw in the spring and begin their breeding process in vernal ponds
A frozen Wood Frog waits for the Spring thaw
During a severe windstorm or rainstorm, the Empire State Building may sway several feet to either side

The official term for the pincerlike claw of a crab, lobster, or scorpion is a "chela"

The hum of a hummingbird comes from the super-fast beat of the wings. The smallest ones beat their wings the fastest — up to 80 times per second. Even the slower beat of bigger hummingbirds (20 times per second) is so fast you can only see a blur

If the skin of a 150-pound person were spread out flat, it would cover approximately 20 square feet    

Goosebumps are caused by a muscle called the arrector pilli muscle as an involuntary reaction to cool air, or to fright, that raises the skin and body hair

The Wright Brothers’ first successful flight on December 17, 1903 covered a distance of about 120 feet - shorter than the wingspan of a modern 747. They earned at least 15 honorary college degrees for the achievement, despite that fact that neither graduated from high school, and were awarded a special Congressional Gold Medal

While females are the ones who carry the gene for Hemophilia, except in the rarest of cases, only males can actually have the disease which makes their blood unable to clot

Fifty years ago in the US, the average man first became married at 23, and the woman at 20 - Today, those ages have increased to 27 and 25, respectively

The popular game Bingo was originally called “Beano” because players used beans to cover the numbered squares

In 1914, Henry Ford doubled the daily wage for his factory workers (from $2.40 to $5 - the equivalent of offering workers about $115 daily in today's dollars) while cutting their daily work hours from nine to eight - this increased loyalty and reduced employee turnover that saved training costs, and increased productivity from workers who became "expert" in their positions

Henry Ford, father of the modern assembly line and mass production, was awarded 161 US patents for his various inventions - his introduction of the Model T Automobile revolutionized transportation globally.  Ford openly claimed to admire Adolph Hitler, and Hitler in turn hung a life-size portrait of Ford next to his desk - in 1938, the Nazi government awarded Ford the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest medal for foreigners
(Pictured:  Henry Ford is presented with Grand Cross of the German Eagle, a medal and honor created by Nazi dictator Adolph Hitler)

The former Rolling Stones’ bassist, Bill Wyman, began a relationship with thirteen-year-old Mandy Smith, when he was forty-seven. They married six years later in 1989, but divorced after less than two years. Not long after the divorce, Bill’s thirty-year-old son, Stephen, married Mandy Smith’s mother, Patsy, age forty-six

The word “jumbo” is a term taken from the name of one of P.T. Barnum’s large circus elephants

Something described as ‘cordiform’ is heart-shaped

The purpose of gasoline rationing during the Second World War was not to conserve gas, but to conserve tires - The primary source for natural rubber at the time was Southeast Asia, much of which was under Japanese control

An intense lightning storm on June 14th around Monroe, Ohio, destroyed the iconic 62-foot-high statue of Jesus (the "King of Kings" structure of the Solid Rock Church) alongside Interstate 75. While townspeople mourned, it was also noteworthy what the lightning bolts completely missed: the large billboard, on the other side of the road, advertising the nearby Hustler Hollywood pornography store

Over the years, according to a June Chicago Sun-Times report, U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois has freely used "swagger and braggadocio in talking about his 21 years of military service" as qualification for office. When one contrary fact after another about his record was pointed out by reporters, Kirk explained, "I simply misremembered it wrong." He admitted that, contrary to his numerous public statements, he was not actually "in" the Iraq Desert Storm war; did not actually "command the Pentagon War Room" when he was assigned there as a Navy Reservist; and was not actually once Naval "Intelligence Officer of the Year." He is now vying for the U.S. Senate seat once held by US President Barack Obama

Tony Chrum was the one apprehended for allegedly buying $160 worth of cocaine from a man who turned
out to be a police informant in Lincoln County, Mo., in May, but his brother, who is Winfield, Mo., police officer Bud Chrum, 39, was the mastermind. According to police and unknown to the informant, Bud had needed to replace 2 grams of cocaine from the police evidence locker because he had accidentally spilled something on it, and Tony agreed to help

"If Google told you to jump off a cliff, would you?" asked a Fortune magazine columnist, describing the lawsuit filed in May by Lauren Rosenberg, asking for damages of more than $100,000 against Google Maps after she was struck by a car. Rosenberg had queried the map service for a "walking route" between points in Park City, Utah, but a short stretch of the suggested route lacked sidewalks. Rosenberg was hit while walking in the street. Though Google and other map services "warn" users against walking in the street, Rosenberg's route was delivered on her small Blackberry phone screen

Britain's Crown Prosecution Service announced a proposed anti-social behavior order against Ellis Drummond, 18, to prohibit him from wearing low-slung trousers in public that allow his underwear to show, but Drummond challenged it in Bedford magistrates' court. In May, Judge Nicholas Leigh-Smith ruled that such an underwear-suppressing order would violate Drummond's "human rights"
(Pictured:  Drummond leaving Bedford magistrate's courthouse, after winning his right to wear low-slung pants that show off his underwear)

Monday, December 6, 2010


Located entirely within its own improvement district – the Reedy Creek Improvement District of Lake Buena Vista, Florida – Walt Disney World with its main attractions and resorts is twice the size of Manhattan. Every day, the guests of the resorts use an amount of linens that would take one person 40 years to clean - the landscaping crew puts over a half a million miles on the mowers cutting the grass of the 47 miles of WDW throughout the year, and in the last seven years, a single water-saving effort has taken place at the theme parks, which has meant a savings of about 2.5 billion gallons of water

The microwave was invented after a researcher walked by a radar tube and a chocolate bar melted in his pocket

Giant squids have been known to eat baby whales

One of the most popular of all urban legends asserts that the New York City sewer system is infested with deadly alligators. In the most popular versions, the animals were brought north from Florida by people who wanted to keep them as pets. When the gators started getting too big and violent, they were released into the sewers. This story dates back to the 1930s, when sensationalist newspapers started reporting countless stories of alligators being found in and around New York City, with some even claiming that police were making regular trips underground to hunt the creatures down

During sleep, fluid in the body tends to pool in low-lying areas, which is the main reason for waking up with puffy eyes

The first lotions and moisturizers date back to 3000 BC, when people in the Near East used whipped ostrich eggs and crocodile dung to keep their skin looking fresh

Kool-Aid was originally marketed as Fruit Smack from 1918 until 1927 by its original inventor, Edwin Perkins, who came up with the powdered concoction in his mother's kitchen in Nebraska with his wife Kitty - it is now owned by Kraft Foods and manufactured in Mexico

Holograms are images made using lasers; that said, if you make a hologram of a magnifying glass, the resulting image would also function as a magnifying glass

BIC estimates that it has sold more than 50 disposable ink pens every second of every day since 1950. In fact, in September 2005, the company proudly announced that it had sold its 100 billionth pen

The scale for measuring the spiciness of a food is called the Scoville Heat Index - The spiciest pepper has over 1,000,000 Scoville units

In Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, the world’s smallest dinosaur footprints were found in 1984 - They were made by a creature likely no larger than a robin

Omar Knedlik of Coffeyville, Kansas, invented the Icee (also called a Slurpee, Slush or Mr. Misty) in the late 1950s - The first flavor he offered was root beer

In the 1904 Olympics, an American gymnast George Eyser faired quite well with six medals even though his left leg was made of wood having lost his real leg after being run over by a train (Pictured below is the wooden leg he wore)

According to doctors, humans experience an average of 14 episodes of flatulence per day no matter their age, race, or sex, though some humans experience slightly higher rates of "passing gas" depending on diet

The use of a stethoscope to listen to your heart rate and breathing is called 'auscultation'

The longest continuous sidewalk in the world is along Bay Shore Blvd. in Tampa, Florida

The ‘Crows Nest’ on a ship (the basket near the top of the mast) used to actually contain a crow - The ships navigator would use one of the birds as a guide in bad weather, since they invariably head towards land

At the time of the Holy Roman Empire, light-color hair was associated with the barbarian women of Gaul and Germany who often ended up as slaves in brothels. Consequently, Roman law required all prostitutes to dye their hair blonde in order to distinguish themselves from “proper,” dark-mane women

Some cultures (especially those in sub-Saharan Africa) give their children names with meanings such as “ugly,” “disagreeable,” or “crippled,” to make them undesirable to demons

“Cleaner shrimp” feed off the parasites that live on fish. To attract passersby for a cleaning, the shrimp appear to do a little dance. Fish taken in by the shrimps’ choreographed moves will respond by “striking a pose,” which signals the cleaner shrimp to begin their feeding and cleaning

A researcher at California State University calculated that non-fiction writers live an average of 68 years, longer than their cohorts who write poems, plays, and fiction works

Disney once banned its park employees from wearing any facial hair. The only person allowed to wear face fuzz was Walt Disney himself until the ban was lifted in 2000 - today, male employees are allowed to have "neatly trimmed" moustaches

The proper name for a crash test dummy is Anthropomorphic Test Device - The first one was developed for the Air Force, not the automobile industry, and was used to test ejection seats  (Pictured below a "crash test family" shows the results of a low-impact crash - the lack of leg room for the back passenger would have resulted in massive injuries to ankles and legs of a real-life passenger)

Librarian Graham Barker, 45, of Perth, Australia, casually revealed to a reporter in October that his hobby of 26 years-- harvesting his own navel lint daily, just before he showers--has now won acclaim in the Guinness Book of World Records. His three-jar collection (a fourth is in progress) has been sold to a local museum.  His pastime, he told London's Daily Mail in October, "costs nothing and takes almost no time or effort so there is no compelling reason to stop." Barker, who also collects McDonald's tray liners, said he once did a "navel lint survey,"and "a handful of respondents confessed" to the hobby. "One guy might have persisted, but he got married, and his wife ordered him to stop"
In September, a judge in Kent County, Michigan finally ordered Howard Veal, 44, to prison to serve at least two years for failure to pay child support. He is more than $500,000 behind in payments to 14 mothers for the 23 children he has fathered. Authorities suspect there are even more 

French officials arrested a 54-year-old immigrant in September on suspicion of welfare fraud. They had recently begun to notice the man applying for government benefits for 55 children by 55 different mothers- authorities believe he has not fathered any children

Swiss artist Gianni Motti had been displaying (through the end of November) a bar of soap at Zurich's Migros Museum of Contemporary Art, claiming it was made from fat that had been liposuctioned from Italy's Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Motti said a clinic employee had surreptitiously given him the fat following Berlusconi's treatment in 2004, but the clinic has denied any involvement 

The investigative journalism website, curious about the workers being hired in the mortgage industry's massive, rushed re-examination of home loans previously foreclosed upon but which may have been processed illegally, began scouring the classified ads in October and November. Result: Though most employers "preferred" college graduates with credit-industry experience, it was clear from the entry-level wages offered that many were accepted only with high school educations, with at least some barely familiar with the concept of mortgages. (One staffing agency, offering $10-$12 an hour, sought a "Supervisor of Foreclosure Department," but that position, also, required only a high school diploma)

Monday, November 29, 2010


Number of Bibles sold worldwide each minute: 50

Percent of the human population that is left-handed: 14% (up from 11% a century ago)

Percent of world population under age 25: 50%

Day of the week most babies are born in the U.S.: Tuesday

The United States has a larger military budget than the next 12 nations combined

Country with the most movie theaters: Russia

Country with the most movie-goers: Lebanon

Day of the week when you are most likely to be involved in a fatal car crash: Saturday

Most common speed limit on U.S. roads: 25 miles per hour

Average amount a bank teller in the U.S. loses each year in transaction mistakes: $250

Around the world, the number of checks that will be deducted from or posted to the wrong bank account in the next hour: 22,000

Number one cause of daytime fatigue: Lack of water

Number of Americans who claim Irish ancestry: 34.5 million (9 times the population of Ireland)

1 in 50 residents of New York City is all or part Irish

Number of astronomers in the U.S.: 3,500

Number of astrologers in the U.S.: 15,000

Percent of Americans who have spent a night in jail: 13%

Chance of a white Christmas in New York: 25%

Number of different familial relationships for which Hallmark makes a card: 105

Percent of Americans who have visited Disneyland or Disney World: 70%

Icelanders consume more Coca-Cola per capita than any other country

$203 million is spent on barbed wire in the U.S. each year

About 3 million American women have at least one tattoo

On average, a business document is photocopied 19 times

The Governor of Arkansas is paid the lowest salary of any U.S. governor

John F. Kennedy was the first U.S. president born in the 20th century

The inventor of the Thigh Master was once a Buddhist monk

Most people who read the word YAWNING will yawn

Oak trees are struck by lightning more than any other tree

Satellite monitoring has demonstrated that the U.S. has the most violent weather of all nations in the world -- the U.S. averages 10,000 violent storms, 5,000 floods, 1,000 tornadoes and 5 hurricanes each year

There are more bacteria in your mouth than people in the world

People with blue eyes are better able to see in the dark

Last two European countries to grant women the right to vote: Sweden-1971, and Leichtenstein-1984

Since 1976 in the U.S., more than 100 pizza box patents have been issued to inventors

Since 1950, world population has doubled

The dial tone on a standard land-based telephone is emitted in the key of F

Andorra -- 83.5
Japan -- 82
San Marino, Singapore -- 81.8
Sweden, Austria, Switzerland -- 80.6
France -- 80.5
Iceland -- 80.4
Canada -- 80.3

No prime number greater than 5 ends in 5

In October in Seminole, Florida, near Tampa, two men, ages 36 and 52, sitting on a porch, drew the attention of two passersby, who made derisive comments and eventually beat up the porch-sitters, who were in costumes as beer bottles for the upcoming Halloween holiday

Sixty-two percent of the 12 million people of Mumbai, India, live in slums, but the city is also home to Mukesh Ambani's 27-story private residence (37,000 square feet, 600 employees serving a family of five), reported to cost about $1billion. According to an October New York Times dispatch, there are "terraces upon terraces," "four-story hanging gardens," "airborne swimming pools," and a room where "artificial weather" can be created. Ambani and his brother inherited their father's textile-exporting juggernaut but notoriously spend much of their time in intra-family feuding. A local domestic worker told the Times (after noting that both she and Ambani are "human being[s]") that she has difficulty understanding why the Ambanis have so much while she struggles on the equivalent of $90 a month 

Safari World, the well-known and controversial zoo on the outskirts of Bangkok, has previously stupefied the world by training orangutans to play basketball, ride motorbikes, and kickbox (while outfitted in martial-arts trunks). In a photo essay in November, London's Daily Mail showcased the park's most recent success--training elephants to tightrope-walk (where they prance on a reinforced cable for 15 meters and then, displaying astonishing balance, turn around on the wire)

In the United States, more than 4,450 activities are federal crimes, and 300,000 federal regulations carry potential criminal penalties, according to an October feature by McClatchy Newspapers, and to illustrate its point that Congress has gone overboard in creating "crimes," McClatchy pointed to a Miami, Fla., seafood importer. Abner Schoenwetter, 64, just finished a six-year stretch in prison for the crime of contracting to purchase lobster tails from a Honduran seller who federal authorities learned was violating lobster-harvest regulations

Performers in New York's traveling Bindlestiff Family Cirkus protested in October against political campaign language referring to Washington, D.C., as a "circus. Said Kinko the Clown, "Before you call anyone in Washington a clown, consider how hard a clown works"

"Tiririca" ("Grumpy"), a professional clown, was elected by resounding vote to the Brazilian Congress from Sao Paulo in October under the slogan "It Can't Get Any Worse"

In June, Britain's traveling John Lawson's Circus announced a series of counseling sessions for people who avoid circuses for fear of clowns. "Coulrophobia" is reportedly Britain's third-leading phobia, after spiders and needles 

Monday, November 22, 2010


The tip of a fencing weapon is the second-fastest moving object in the Olympics - The fastest is a bullet

The notorious Roman emperor Nero also wanted to be a  musician -  He employed 5,000 knights and soldiers to accompany him on his concert tours just to applaud his lyre-playing

The antennae sticking out the head of a snail aren’t feelers, but their eyes that are located at the tips of those long stalks

Despite their proximity to the Equator, Mount Cotopaxi in South America and Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa are both snow-capped year-round

Pythagoras, the philosopher and mathematician, did not discover the Pythagorean Theorem. Many math historians now believe that the Egyptians used the same theorem in their construction projects a hundred years before Pythagoras was born

The “french” in french fries actually describes the way the spuds are sliced, not their country of origin

Minnows have teeth in their throats

The cost of a first-class postage stamp during the American Bicentennial was thirteen cents — one for each of the original colonies

The word “pie” can be traced to the 13th century, but in the old days, the dessert was more commonly known as a “coffin” or “coffyn.” In fact, “coffin” was used in this context for 300 years before it was applied to a burial casket

Before writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, author J.R.R. Tolkien worked for the Oxford English Dictionary with a focus on the etymology of Germanic words beginning with W

Octopuses have rectangular pupils

At more than 3.3 million square miles, the Sahara Desert is as large as the world’s next 20 largest hot deserts combined

The word “upset” came into use for a surprise outcome when a horse named Upset became the first to ever beat the legendary Man O’War

In Monaco, citizens aren’t taxed on their incomes, but there is a 19.6% “value-added tax” placed on most consumer purchases

Other than tap water, coffee is the favorite beverage among adult Canadians, who reportedly consume an average of 2.6 cups per day

Thought to be the original fast-food, Genghis Khan and his hordes carried around flat patties of ground up mutton under their saddles to eat on the go

A group of rhinos is called a crash

LSD, Lysergic acid diethylamide, existed in the Middle Ages as “ergot,” a fungus that grew on rye bread. People in Europe referred to its effects “St. Anthony’s Fire”

The inventors of bubble wrap, Alfred Fielding and Marc Chavannes, were originally trying to make plastic wallpaper

The first VCR, developed by the Ampex Corporation in 1956, weighed nearly 1,500 lbs. It took another 15 years before a version small and light enough for home use hit the scene (Pictured below is the first commercialVCR, circa 1956)

Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952 but declined the offer... he was quoted as saying, "How I wish that somewhere there existed an island for those who are wise and of goodwill! In such a place even I would be an ardent patriot."

Polar bears can grow to be over 10 feet tall (3.1 meters) and weigh 1500 pounds (680kg) - taller than an elephant and heavier than the average compact car

Foie gras is a delicacy made out of duck or goose liver. It is banned in Turkey, the European Union, and Israel due to a process called force-feeding. To make foie gras, birds are force-fed corn mash or some other type of food about 8 days before they are slaughtered in order to enlarge the liver and give it a fatty consistency -  in 2005 foie gras was banned in Chicago, but the ban was lifted in 2008. Many states within the U.S. have attempted to have foie gras banned, but none have succeeded as of yet

In 1956, Disneyland opened its doors in the US, but banned male employees from having facial hair - It took until 2000 for the theme parks to renege on the policy, which now allows male employees to have neatly trimmed moustaches

About 20 percent of Japan's adult-video market is now "elder porn" with each production featuring one or more studly seniors and Shigeo Tokuda, 76, among the most popular. He told Toronto's Globe and Mail in October that he still "performs physically without Viagra," in at least one role a month opposite much younger women. His wife and adult daughter learned only two years ago, by accident, of his late-onset career (which began at age 60 when a filmmaker hired him for his "pervert's face"). Tokuda figures the "elder porn" genre will grow with Japan's increasing senior population 

In Afghanistan, as in many less-developed countries, boy babies are much preferred to girls for economic reasons and social status, but some thus-unlucky Afghan parents have developed a workaround for "excess" girls: simply designate one a boy. All references to her are male, and she dresses as a boy, plays "boy" games, and does "boy" chores, at least until puberty, when many parents of the "bocha posh" convert her back. In some tribal areas, according to a September New York Times dispatch, superstition holds that creation of a bocha posh even enhances prospects of the next child's being a boy 

Cheerful, articulate Catholic Opus Dei official Sarah Cassidy, 43, granting a long interview to London's Daily Mail in September about her joy of life, waxed eloquent about bringing herself pain for two hours every night as reminders of God's love. Complained another Opus Dei "numerary," our "materialistic, hedonistic society" understands pain "if you go jogging and pounding the streets . . . just because you want to be thinner" (or endure Botox injections or cram your toes painfully into tiny shoes) but somehow they don't understand when Cassidy wraps the spiked "cilice" tightly around her leg every night for God 

The charity Brain Injury New Zealand, organizing a community benefit in the town of Rotorua, decided in October to stage--of all things--a "zombie walk," inviting townspeople to shuffle around in support. The TV station TVNZ reported numerous complaints alleging BINZ's insensitivity

For months, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour has been indifferent to humanitarian appeals on behalf of sisters Jamie and Gladys Scott, who were convicted in 1993 of luring two men to a robbery (total take, $11; no injuries) but who were each mysteriously sentenced to two consecutive life sentences. (The actual robbers got two years.) Beyond the questionable sentence is Jamie's extremely poor health (double kidney failure). Gov. Barbour's unyielding position is to direct the appeals to the state's parole board. In 2008, bypassing the parole board, Gov. Barbour independently pardoned four murderers who were serving life sentences, even though none had particularly claimed unfair conviction. The four had participated in a prison-sponsored odd-jobs program, helping out around the governor's mansion 

Monday, November 15, 2010


The first British bungee jump occurred on April Fool’s Day, 1979. Dressed in a tux and hugging a bottle of champagne, 33-year-old David Kirke did a back-flip off the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. The crowd, who thought they were witnessing a suicide attempt, watched him plunge 250 feet toward the Avon, but to their surprise, never saw him hit water when the bungee eventually flung him up and down instead - he was arrested for the stunt once untethered from the bungee cord

In the 1950s David Attenborough and a BBC film crew brought back footage of the "land divers" of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu, young men who jumped from tall wooden platforms with vines tied to their ankles as a test of their courage and passage into manhood.  A similar practice, only with a much slower pace for falling, has been practiced as the Danza de los Voladores de Papantla or the 'Papantla flyers' of central Mexico, a tradition dating back to the days of the Aztecs

The bikini style bathing suit was named for the Bikini atoll in the Pacific. When the suit debuted on July 5, 1946, it was named for the island on which nuclear testing was commenced by the US only 4 days earlier. The suit was so scandalous that a Parisian stripper, Micheline Bernardini, had to be hired to model it

The human bone most often broken is the clavicle (collar bone)

During the Great Depression couples could neither afford to become wed, nor to divorce - Not surprisingly, both numbers spiked highly following World War II.  In the United States during the current recession, divorce and marriage rates are both on the decline with the falling rates being taken as an economic indicator

Stephanie Kwolik invented Kevlar in 1965, the material used in bulletproof vests

When Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955, the 110°F temperatures melted the asphalt on Main Street and caused many high-heeled shoes to become stuck in the pavement

In 1557, European doctors recommended smoking to combat bad breath and cancer

The concept of “community service” as a form of probation originated in Alameda County, California, in 1966. It was first used as an alternative “punishment” for female traffic violators

Spiders use their silk in many ways. Aside from building webs (which each spider does on its first try, suggesting inherited behavior), some species of male spiders wrap food in silk and present these “presents” to females - (Pictured below is a large spider web shimmering in the sun with morning dew)

Not a single witch was burned at the stake after being convicted in the Salem witch trials - most were hanged

Nearly $40 billion in U.S. coins are currently in circulation

The first US president to earn a PhD was Woodrow Wilson - the first US president born in a hospital was Jimmy Carter

Marie Curie’s notebooks are still radioactive - she is the chemist and physicist who was the first person ever awarded two Nobel Prizes, the first female professor at the University of Paris, and the first to discover radium

During the year 1881, three men served as President of the United States: Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield and Chester A. Arthur

Blue eyes are the result of an ancient genetic mutation

Swearing to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” dates back to English Common Law. Interestingly enough, there were no penalties for perjury until the 1600s; prior to that time, it was believed that the fear of God’s wrath was enough to keep witnesses honest

Habitual singing causes the lungs to release leptin, a protein manufactured by the body’s fat cells that is involved in the regulation of appetite - This may partially explain why opera stars tend to be overweight

During World War II, Navajo Indians were inducted into the Marine Corps to become “code talkers” on the front lines. Navajo Code Talkers prove to have the only code that was never cracked during World War II

NBC was the first network to pioneer the “credit squeeze.” They started the trend in 1994 by showing the closing credit scroll in a split-screen format, with the right half of the screen filled with station promos and clips from upcoming programs

Only 17 existing paintings are attributed to famed artist Leonardo da Vinci

“Iron Eyes Cody” the famous Native American icon from the Keep America Beautiful public service announcements in the early 1970s was actually Italian

Ronald Reagan’s first Inauguration Day (Jan. 20, 1981) was the warmest January inauguration on record, at 55°F. When reelected, his second Inauguration Day (Jan. 21, 1985) was the coldest on record, at only 7°F

The Red Sea got its name from the occasionally extensive blooms of algae that, upon dying, turn the sea's normally intense blue-green waters to red

Two rats can become the progenitors of 15,000 rats in less than a year

Poi, a Hawaiian/Polynesian dip, is made by cooking breadfruit, sweet potatoes, bananas, or taro root until it is soft enough to mash with water in a bowl. Cooked taro is very firm and has to be mashed with a strong hand. In earlier times, a stone and a pounding board would be used to mash it. Traditionally, Hawaiians preferred to let poi stand for a few days until it fermented and turned sour

The National Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin is shaped like a muskie

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History houses the world's largest shell collection, some 15 million specimens. A smaller museum in Sanibel, Florida owns a mere 2 million shells and claims to be the world's only museum devoted solely to mollusks

Mother prairie dogs will nurse their young only while underground in the safety of the burrow. If an infant tries to suckle above ground, the mother will slap it

On August 12, 1895, Minnie Dean became the first woman to be hanged in New Zealand. Her crime was "baby farming." She would adopt unwanted babies for a certain fee and then dispose of them, a "service" she began in 1889. The police caught on to Minnie after six years and found her to be most certainly guilty when they dug up three bodies of infants in her flower garden
Ingrid Paulicivic filed a lawsuit in September against Laguna Beach, California, gynecologist Red Alinsod over leg burns she bafflingly acquired during her 2009 hysterectomy--a procedure that was topped off by the doctor's nearly gratuitous name-"branding" of her uterus with his electrocautery tool. Dr. Alinsod explained that he carved "Ingrid" in inch-high letters on the organ only after he had removed it and that such labeling helps in the event a woman requests the return of the uterus as a souvenir. He called the branding just a "friendly gesture" and said he did not know how the burns on Paulicivic's leg occurred  

Convicted Pennsylvania embezzler Lanette Sansoni pleaded guilty in August and agreed to reimburse the victim the remaining $200,000 of the $475,000 she had stolen. Judge Joseph Smyth then sentenced Sansoni to house arrest--for 21 years. She can remain out of jail as long as she works and contributes at least $750 a month for restitution 

Monday, November 8, 2010


An infant human has about 300 bones, some of which fuse together as the youngster grows up - An adult human’s body typically contains 206 bones

To assemble the Wizard’s wardrobe for The Wizard of Oz, MGM costumers shopped at thrift stores to find clothes that projected “shabby gentility.” In an incredible coincidence, the previous owner of the coat they purchased was Wizard of Oz writer L. Frank Baum

When he died in 1977, Elvis Presley had $1,055,173.69 in a non-interest-bearing checking account

Chemotherapy drugs are designed to kill any rapidly dividing cells. Human hair follicles are some of the fastest-growing cells in the body, which is why most cancer patients lose their hair during treatment

The only state highway in the U.S. that prohibits motorized vehicles is M-185 on Mackinaw Island in Michigan. You can travel on foot, bicycle or horse

The first bumper stickers appeared prior to World War II and usually promoted political candidates. At that time, they weren’t adhesive-backed; they were affixed to the car bumper with wire

The state fish of Hawaii is the humuhumunukunukuapua’a. The Hawaiian name roughly translates to “the fish with a pig-like nose” - It's English name is the Reef Triggerfish

The last state to ban eugenics based castration was Oregon in 1983 - The last castration took place in 1978.  A woman died in the program during a hysterectomy at age 29 in 1975.  Eugenics, in the broadest sense, means taking action to improve the human gene pool, but often meant practices that aimed to rid societies of people of color, people with disabilities, and people deemed less intelligent

The two busiest commercial ports in the United States do not border the Atlantic or Pacific, but the Gulf of Mexico: They’re in New Orleans and Houston

The Beach Boys were the founders of "surf rock"; however, only Dennis Wilson knew how to surf, and he died of drowning in 1983

A cricket’s ears aren’t located on its head, but just above the knee on its front legs

The Pony Express only lasted a single year before the transcontinental telegraph made the route unnecessary

Stephen Perry patented his idea for the rubber band in 1845 - The London businessman came up with the invention after Charles Goodyear introduced rubber to the world in 1839

Chocolate chip cookies were made by mistake when the chocolate in the cookie did not melt properly

The United Kingdom was the first nation to issue adhesive postage stamps; as a result, today British postage stamps are the only ones in the world that do not indicate their country of origin

Henri Breault, a pediatrician from Windsor, Ontario, invented the child-resistant medicine cap in 1967

The first registered domain name was, registered on March 15, 1985

The first documented bank notes come from China. The bills were one-foot-square pieces of white deerskin with colorful borders, and were used as early as 118 BC

Within an hour’s drive of Neuquén in southwestern Argentina lie three important paleontologic sites, each home to record-breaking finds from about 90 million years ago, including Argentinosaurus huinculensis, considered the world’s largest dinosaur (coming in at 130 feet long and 60 feet tall), Giganotosaurus carolinii, thought to be the world’s largest carnivorous dinosaur (46 feet long), and fossilized footprints so large that locals once used them as community barbeque pits

Octopuses have no bones, their bodies are incredibly flexible - They can slither through openings not much bigger than their eyeballs

If a foreign-born female gives birth on an airplane in U.S. airspace, or on a ship within 12 nautical miles of the U.S. coast, her child automatically becomes a U.S. citizen - citizenship is not conferred to the parents

Opossums are the only marsupials native to North America

Although both aardvarks and anteaters feed on ants, they’re members of different families and live in different areas of the world - anteaters are found in Central and South America, while aardvarks are native to Africa

Although oil is known as “black gold,” it isn’t black to begin with - When it spurts from the ground, crude is most often dark green

Jupiter has 63 moons

Today, about five percent of the entire U.S. potato crop goes to make McDonald’s French fries

Pearls dissolve in vinegar

In the 1920’s and early 1930’s, French surgeon Serge Voronoff perfected the technique of transplanting testicle tissue from various primates into men, supposedly to increase longevity and sex drive. Discredited by the 1940’s, the once-fashionable procedure had a cocktail named after it: the ‘Monkey Gland’ (gin, orange juice, grenadine and absinthe)

In September 2010, the Romanian Senate rejected a proposal by two legislators to regulate, and tax, fortune-tellers and "witches," even though the government is otherwise desperately seeking new sources of revenue. A prominent witch had complained about potential record-keeping burdens on the "profession," but one of the bill's sponsors told the Associated Press he thinks opposition came from lawmakers who were frightened of having spells and curses placed on them

As an alternative to the surgical scalpel, zapping a penis with electricity can produce a cleaner cut and with much less blood, according to a team of doctors from the Institute of Biomedical Engineering in Taiwan. Best of all, their July report noted, since the experiments were too risky for ordinary test volunteers, they performed all procedures on themselves

Monday, November 1, 2010


The only U.S. president to have been the head of a union was Ronald Reagan, who became US President in 1980 and had president of the Screen Actors Guild when he was still an actor

Invented in the 1940s in Tennessee, Mountain Dew was meant to be mixed with whiskey. In fact, its bottles were designed to look like moonshine, and the original Mountain Dew labels featured outhouses, stills, and hay-chewing yokels

While Antarctica is very cold, it’s not all ice and snow - About 1,200 square miles of the continent are made up of “dry valleys,” where mountains and ridges keep out any precipitation

The celery stick garnish became a staple of the Bloody Mary only after an impatient patron at Chicago’s Pump Room couldn’t wait for his server to bring him a swizzle stick. He took matters into his own hands and snatched a celery stalk from a nearby relish tray

In the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, Ariel and her sassy crab friend, Sebastian, overcome the wicked sea witch, and Ariel swims off to marry the man of her dreams. In the original tale, however, the mermaid’s fins-for-feet exchange comes at a price- namely, that every step on her new legs causes her excruciating pain - And in the end, the prince marries someone else

Queen Victoria used a tincture of marijuana to relieve menstrual pains

Contrary to popular belief, a camel’s hump does not store water. Instead, it’s filled with fat, which allows the animal to go for a month without food. If the hump becomes depleted, it will shrink, flop over, and hang at the camel’s side

Every diamond above ground is very, very slowly altering into graphite, another form of pure carbon

William Wrigley originally started in the baking powder business. With his powder, he gave a free pack of his gum. He later abandoned the baking powder business when he learned that people were buying it just to get the gum

Although the word “earthling” today conjures visions of science-fiction stories, it is actually the Old English word for a farmer

Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines, owned more than 3,000 of shoes

Near the event horizon of a black hole (the boundary in spacetime surrounding said black hole), ’spaghettification’ will occur, stretching matter into thin strips

Two of America’s greatest national symbols were made overseas: The Liberty Bell was cast in England, and the Statue of Liberty was crafted in France

If an Oscar winner has any inklings about selling his/her statue, it must first be offered to the Academy who can purchase it for $1

In 1944, as a WWII war correspondent, Ernest Hemingway led Free French resistance fighters in the defense of the town of Rambouillet, an act for which he was almost tried under the Geneva Conventions

In the classic movie-musical, The Wizard of Oz, the many-hued Horse of a Different Color that leads Dorothy and gang through the Emerald City wasn’t actually painted. Instead, animal rights activists advocated that the white horse be sponged with different flavors (and colors) of gelatin and then physically restrained from licking it off

The North Pole is not considered a continent like the South Pole because the ice of the North Pole floats on the ocean, while the ice of the South Pole sits on actual ground – the continent of Antarctica

About 39,000 gallons of water are used to produce the average car

Cheesecake was invented in Ancient Greece and served to athletes at the very first Olympic Games

The first plastic-bodied car was manufactured in 1941 by Ford

In Ireland, Jack O’Lanterns were once carved from turnips

When table tennis was originally created in 1889, it was called gossima - in the US, it is commonly known as "ping-pong"

Chimpanzees are excellent tool makers and have been documented to make very primitive spears to kill bush babies hiding in the trees during the night

Only one breed of dog is mentioned by name in the Bible: the Greyhound. (Proverbs 30:29-31, King James Version)

Sleeping through the winter is called hibernation, while sleeping through hot and dry periods like summer is called estivation

The song “A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash was actually written by Shel Silverstein who also wrote “Where the Sidewalk Ends” and “The Giving Tree” children’s books. The song was recorded at San Quentin Prison in California and became Cash’s biggest hit

Billiards was once a lawn game played outdoors, which is why today’s pool tables have a green felt cover

Each year, about 450 men die of breast cancer in the US

In Paris, there are more dogs than there are children

Fish can taste with their fins and tail as well as their mouth

Eugene Palmer, 40, wearing a ski mask and carrying a gun, was arrested in Brunswick, Georgia, in March as he tried to rush into a SunTrust bank during business hours but became frustrated by the locked doors--in that it was a drive-thru-only branch 

After surveying 374 waitresses, Professor Michael Lynn, who teaches marketing and tourism at Cornell University, concluded that customers left larger tips to those with certain physical characteristics such as being slender, being blond, or having big breasts. Lynn told the Cornell Daily Sun in May that his study was important in helping potential waitresses gauge their "prospects in the industry"

University of Central Lancashire (England) researchers writing in a recent Archives of Sexual Behavior reported that women achieve orgasm more often during foreplay than intercourse but that they more frequently emit orgasm-signaling "vocalizations" just before, or simultaneously with, male ejaculation 

To most, the toilet is a functional appliance, but to thoughtful people, it can be an instrument upon which creativity blossoms. Thus, the price tags were high this summer when commodes belonging to two literary giants of the 20th century went on sale. In August, a gaudily designed toilet from John Lennon's 1969-71 residence in Berkshire, England, fetched 9,500 pounds (about $14,740) at a Liverpool auction, and a North Carolina collectibles dealer opened bids on the toilet that long served reclusive author J.D. Salinger at his home in Cornish, N.H. The dealer's initial price was $1 million because, "Who knows how many of Salinger's stories were thought up and written while [he] sat on this throne!"

Monday, October 25, 2010


While mittens were around in prehistoric times, the glove (with articulated fingers) dates to ancient Greece, popping up in some translations of Homer’s Odyssey

The earliest documented strain of syphilis, first appearing in Europe in a 1490s outbreak, caused severe symptoms and often death within a few months of contracting the disease

The first American-made condoms were made from vulcanized rubber, and were meant to be re-used - modern condoms are most often made from latex, but some are made from other materials such as polyurethane, polyisoprene, or lamb intestine

Emperor Hirohito, leader of Japan during WWII, was more than a political power; he was also well respected in the field of marine biology

The FBI called Ted Kaczynski ‘The Unabomber’ because his early mail bombs were sent to universities (UN) and airlines (A)

Overall U.S. consumption of poultry has doubled over the last 25 years, from 18 million pounds to 36 million pounds

The area where Washington, D.C., now stands was originally a mosquito-infested swamp - It took years to drain and clear the land before our nation’s government was moved to the city in 1800

Africans were abducted or purchased from their homeland and enslaved in the United States for over 245 years, and were actually used as forced labor to help build the White House - in front of where Barack Obama, America's first Black president, took his oath of office used to be a tent city for slaves and workers who were building the Capitol

A praying mantis has one ear

Liquid measurements are different in Britain than the US — a fluid ounce is smaller, while pints, quarts and gallons are larger in the UK than in the US

If a male fruit fly is consistently denied mating by a certain type of female, he learns to avoid other females that have similar pheromones

Antarctica gets very little snow, but the snow that does fall on the continent never melts

The Edison Portland Cement Company was one of inventor Thomas Edison’s countless business ventures. Despite supplying the cement for the original Yankee Stadium, the company tanked because it insisted on producing concrete everything, including cabinets, pianos, and even entire houses (Pictured: Inventor Thomas Edison stands beside a model of one of the cement homes he had designed- several were built)

Bob Dylan got his musicians drunk for the recording of “Rainy Day Women #12 and 35″ because, as he claimed, they were "too stiff" - the song proclaims in its refrain that "everybody must get stoned"

During World War II, La-Z-Boy manufactured seats for tanks, torpedo boats, gun turrets, and armored cars - the company is now famous for it's comfortable living room furniture, and particularly it's reclining chairs

Louis Armstrong played the trumpet so much that he got callouses on his lips that he cut them off with a razor blade

The Margherita pizza is named for Margherita of Savoy, Queen consort of Italy from 1878-1900 during the reign of her husband, King Umberto I

The famous Mount Rushmore in South Dakota featuring the heads of presidents Washington, T. Roosevelt, Jefferson, and Lincoln was built as a lure for tourists to give South Dakota tourism dollars that it desperately needed - today, almost 3 million people visit the mountain each year

Chinese judges in the 15th century used darkened lenses (sunglasses) to hide their facial expressions in court

The very first high heels were made for soldiers in the 1500s who needed a way to keep their feet snugly tucked into their stirrups while riding on horseback

Most of the lower class in ancient Egypt walked barefoot, but figures on murals dating from 3500 B.C. depict an early version of shoes worn mostly by the higher classes. These were leather pieces held together with lacing that was often arranged to look like the symbol of “ankh,” which represents life - but there are also some depictions of both upper-class males and females wearing heels, probably for ceremonial purposes. Egyptian butchers also wore heels, to help them walk above the blood of dead beasts

The official color of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is International Orange
Pictured above, the Golden Gate Bridge spanning San Fransisco Bay is not only the most popular place to commit suicide among Americans, but is the most popular destination for suicides worldwide - after a fall of approximately 4 seconds, a jumper hits the water at about 76 miles per hour (122km/hr) - on average, someone leaps from the bridge, hitting the water below so fast that the impact is similar to smashing into concrete, once every two weeks, and an additional 70 people a year are rescued from jumping by patrol officers each year

In March, four New York Police Department officers, acting on department intelligence, went to the home of Walter and Rose Martin in Brooklyn, N.Y., looking for a suspect, and broke a window as they worked their way inside. The Martins, retired and in their 80s, were clean, and a police spokesman later admitted that officers had wrongly visited or raided the Martins' home more than 50 times since 2002 because of a stubborn computer glitch. When the software was originally installed, an operator tested it by mindlessly typing in a random address, but that happened to be the Martins' house, and thus the visits and raids began. The Martins say they have been assured several times that the problem had been corrected, but evidently their address has wormed its way too deep into the system 

The Swiss government announced in March 2010 that it would help bring to market "extra"-small condoms for boys as young as 12. (The decrease in circumference from a "standard" condom would be about 5/16th of an inch) 

In July, the prominent BrewDog brewery in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, began producing the world's strongest (and most expensive) beer, called The End of History, which is 55 percent alcohol and sells for 500 pounds ($780) a bottle. As if to enrage both anti-alcohol and animal-welfare activists, BrewDog released the first twelve bottles taxidermally inserted inside the carcasses of roadkill (seven ermines, four squirrels, and a rabbit). Said company founder James Watt, BrewDog aims to "elevate the status of beer in our culture"

Monday, October 18, 2010


Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are witren, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe

Miles of telephone wire a strung across the U.S.: 1,525, 000, 000

The volume of the Earth's moon is the same as the volume of the Pacific Ocean

Ingrown toenails are hereditary

In Mel Brooks' 'Silent Movie,' mime Marcel Marceau is the only person who has a speaking role

The heart pumps about 1 million barrels of blood during an average lifetime

During WWII Chrysler built B-29's that bombed Japan, and Mitsubishi built Zeros that tried to shoot them down - Both companies now build cars in a joint plant called Diamond Star

An elephant's tooth can weigh as much as 12 pounds

The first hard drive available for the Apple II had a capacity of only 5 megabytes

Contrary to popular belief, opossums, squirrels, chipmunks, and mice do not carry rabies

Europe is the only continent without a desert

Car accidents rise 10% during the first week of daylight savings time, also known as summer savings time

Over 10,000 birds a year die from smashing into windows - about 50,000 die during migration by being distracted at night by city lights, leaving the birds to fly in circles around the lighted areas to the point of exhaustion and death

The word 'gymnasium' comes from the Greek word gymnazein which means 'to exercise naked'

4.5 pounds of sunlight strike the Earth each day

"FIRST, CARRY TO FIRE" - Instructions on a standard fire extinguisher in the U.S.

Vidalia onions are grown in Georgia (U.S.A.) and no other place in the world
The firefly is not actually a fly, but a beetle - males emit a light in sequences that attract females by sending out key information about themselves including age and location
Prior to the 1800s, people tried to clean their teeth using eggshells and abrasives. Not until 1824 did an American dentist named Peabody come up with the idea to add soap to tooth powder, thus giving it a cleansing agent

Caterpillars have about four thousand muscles

New Yorkers have some of the longest commutes among Americans, averaging 40 minutes

The longest place name in the United States is Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, located near Webster, Massechusetts

The U.S. Interstate system was started by Dwight D. Eisenhower to transport military supplies and troops in case of foreign invasion

Francis Galton, the inventor of fingerprinting, had many other notable ideas: the weather map, the phrase “nature vs. nurture,” and the silent dog whistle

Although the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People clearly stated its mission in its title, W.E.B. Du Bois was the only African American on the NAACP’s first board of directors

Birds cock their heads at the ground not to listen for prey (such as insects or worms) but to better see them

Light from the sun takes approximately 8 minutes to reach Earth

Despite its 6.5 million square feet of floor space, the Pentagon in Washington was constructed in such a way that no point in the building is more than seven minutes’ walk from any other point in the building

Pepsi-Cola was originally called “Brad’s Drink"

At the fastfood restaurant Fatburger, you can order a ‘Hypocrite’ –- a veggie burger topped with crispy strips of bacon

Despite their menacing appearance and fierce name, dragonflies cannot sting and are harmless to human beings

The small pink protuberance is in the corner of your eye is called the plica semilunaris

Cleopatra had a special lipstick made for her, consisting of crushed ants and deep red carmine beetles

According to the 2000 census, there are at least 2,376,206 people named Smith in the United States, making it the most common American surname

The average life span of a Major League Baseball is 7 pitches

Some of the first examples s of graffiti come from 1st century Pompeii, where messages like “I don’t want to sell my husband” and “Successus was here,” were written on walls

Time magazine reported in August 2010 that among the entrants in this year's "Detroit Hair Wars" (showcasing 34 stylists working with 300 models) were The Hummer (stylist: "Little Willie"), in which a mass of extensions is shaped to resemble the vehicle, including four large tires--with "metal" wheels and front grid added--sitting upon the styled hair of model Sharv Bailey; and Beautiful Butterfly (stylist: Niecy Hayes), featuring extensions thinned, teased, and stretched into four artistic "wings" arising from the styled hair of model Taja Hill. Both stylings appear to be at least two feet long, dwarfing the models' heads, and take at least 10 hours to prepare

Featured at London's Royal College of Art in June 2010 was Hiromi Ozaki's "Menstruation Machine"- a wearable contraption that enables men to experience the two primary symptoms of the "period." It periodically generates abdominal pain, and its reservoir permits liquid ("blood") to be stored and released over several days' time
Between suicide, murder, assault, drunken driving, and drug use, the soldiers of the Fourth Brigade, First Armored Division, at Fort Bliss, Tex., have been statistically in greater peril while stateside than while deployed in Iraq. "Being back [home] is what we don't do well," Lt. Col. David Wilson told the New York Times in July. During the last year in Iraq, the Brigade lost only one soldier to combat, but in the previous year stateside, seven were killed and four people died in crimes committed by Brigade personnel

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