Monday, April 26, 2010


The Science Museum in London has put on display a 200-year-old bra as the first known example of what would one day become something like the WonderBra, or push-up bra  -  the lingerie dates back to the early 1800s and even features special padding to create extra cleavage

A recent study discovered it takes the typical mother 26 minutes to go through pre- and post-wash tasks every time she turns on the machine  -  with most mothers in the United States and the United Kingdom plowing through six loads of washing a week, which means two hours and 36 minutes are spent on the laundry, but on top of that mothers spend 55 minutes a week ironing clothes (This study did not examine father's work in the home)

George Washington, the first President of the United States, borrowed two books from the New York Society Library back in 1789, but never returned them - meaning that he has racked up a $300,000 fine  -  Washington borrowed the books- "The Law of Nations," a dissertation on international relations, and a volume of debate transcripts from the U.K. House of Commons- out on October 5, 1789, which were due back a month later  -  lending records show he did not sign them out properly either, having an aide write only "President"

A survey of over 3,000 people in Britain discovered that over the past three years the time people go to bed has been put back 54 minutes to 11:41 pm - hectic work schedules, busy lifestyles and money worries are said to be the main reason for the increasingly late bed time  -  It was also found that nearly half of people are still up at midnight and one in ten are still awake at 1am

The odds an adult will be investigated for a tax or financial crime in a year are 1 in 52,780 (United States)

Military expenditure by governments worldwide today only:  $2.5 billion  (US)

Sir Isaac Newton could work skillfully with metal, wood and glass even constructing, among other things, his own telescopes and even the tools with which he made them  

‘Jay’ used to be slang for ‘foolish person’ -  So when a pedestrian ignored street signs, they were referred to as a ‘jaywalker’

The Channel Islands- Jersey, Guernsey, Alderney, and Sark- were the only parts of Britain that were occupied by the Germans during World War 2

President Lincoln’s oldest son is connected to three presidential assassinations: He rushed to his father’s deathbed in 1865, and was at or near the scene of the assassination of Garfield in 1881 and McKinley in 1901

In Sri Lanka, citizens celebrate the New Year by participating in elevated pillow fights, where contestants try to knock each other off of beams, and greased pole competitions, where participants try to plant flags atop 10-foot-tall slippery tree trunks

Mock turtle soup does not actually contain turtle, its main ingredient is an entire cow’s head

While it’s up to individual states to determine their color, most school buses in the United States have been painted National School Bus Chrome Yellow since a 1939 national conference recommended it as the shade of choice - the decision was based on a Yale University study that determined yellow was the color most visible to the human eye from a distance

Apple seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide

Valium in its natural form can be found in trace amounts in wheat and potatoes

Whiskey is clear when it is first distilled - it gets it’s color and much of it’s taste from the oak barrels in which it is aged

Angelfish are safe inside the mouths of hammerhead sharks because they serve as natural toothpicks, picking out parasites from between the shark’s teeth

Though his face graces the 20 dollar bill (US), Andrew Jackson despised paper money and favored a monetary system centered on gold and silver

Despite his many name changes, musician Prince does have a real first name given to him upon his birth: Prince

Golf courses in the United States take up as much land space as Rhode Island and Delaware combined

Despite the title of his song “Für Elise”, Beethoven didn’t even know an Elise, at least according to most historians - Beethoven had hideous handwriting, to the point that some scholars speculate the song was actually written “for Therese,” one of several women who turned down a marriage proposal from the notoriously lovesick maestro

Despite Texas's severe pro-conviction history, one man actually received a full pardon in February. Tim Cole had been convicted of rape in 1986, though relentlessly proclaiming his innocence, and a 1996 confession to the crime by another man did not move officials to re-investigate. When a DNA result (ordered in 2008) confirmed the 1996 confession, Cole's innocence could no longer be ignored.  In March 2010, Gov. Rick Perry issued a full pardon, but Cole could not enjoy it. He had died in prison in 1999 after wrongfully serving 13 years the last three despite the fact that the actual rapist had already tried to turn himself in

William Edmunds, 32, was charged with DUI in March when his car weaved up to the guard gate at the loading dock for the Montgomery County, New York jail, and he asked if this was the Canadian border crossing at Niagara Falls (more than 250 miles away)
Travis Neeley, 19, was arrested in Lake City, Florida, in March for burglarizing a car, caught red-handed by the owner, who used the remote control to lock Neeley inside. Neeley tried several times to unlock a door and exit, but each time, the owner relocked it before Neeley could get out, and he finally gave up and waited for police

The U.S. Senate passed a bill in March to correct a misimpression Congress had in the 1990s when it instituted mandatory sentences for crack-cocaine possession that were about 100 times the sentences for powdered cocaine. Scientists long ago pointed out that the two substances are chemically the same, and the new provisions set crack-cocaine sentences at only about 18 times those for powder

The Utah legislature passed a bill in March to, for the first time, legalize the personal collection of rain water. "Harvesting" rain has been illegal, but now would be allowed, with a state permit, in special state-approved containers

A December Seattle Times profile of Rachel Porcaro (a single mother with an $18,000-a-year hair-cutting job, raising two kids, living with her parents) centered on IRS's year-long, full-blown audit of her, and subsequently, of her parents, because she was flagged for earning too little money on which to raise a family in Seattle. Ultimately, Rachel and her parents prevailed on every issue

A man seen on surveillance video at a Mobil On The Run convenience store in Bloomfield, Connecticut, in February fled after stuffing at least 17 cans of Red Bull energy drink down his pants. And in Cairns, Australia, a 51-year-old man was caught shoplifting in March, witnessed by security staff putting three limes and a package of beef tongue in his pants. When cornered, the man pulled out an additional two onions, three trays of rump steaks, and a packet of lamb forequarter chops

In February, police in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania., said they had to delay processing accused molester Siri Pinnya, 36, because he would not stop masturbating. Said the police superintendent, "We only fingerprinted his left hand"

Itinerant contractor Billie Bobbie Harrison, 24, was charged in Spartanburg, South Carolina, with indecent exposure in February, after he approached a homeowner, lowered his pants, and offered to pave her driveway later if she would have sex with him

Monday, April 19, 2010


Until the early twentieth century, a common treatment for ear infections was to flush the ear with warm urine

U.S. state with the highest African-American population:  New York

People on earth living in slums:  1 in 6

Country with the most women Internet users:  United States

Globally, number of children who die from preventable diseases each year:  1 in 12

Of the more than one million species of insect on earth, 3000 are mosquito, and 165 species flourish in the United States

Most popular cheese in the world:  Cheddar

A cup of decaffeinated coffee contains about the same amount of caffeine as in 50 M&Ms

Every hamster alive in the United States today is descended from a single litter captured in Syria in 1930

Wal-Mart sells more clothing apparel each year than all other department stores combined

Length of a "jiffy":  1/100th of a second

In 1900 in the U.S. an infant had an 80% of living to age 15 - by 2000, odds had increased to 99%

Researchers at the University of Arizona discovered that bacteria is spread most easily in hospitals through the use of the remote control that calls for the nurse and operates the television in patients' rooms  -  most deaths from bacterial infections contracted in hospitals were traced to the use of the remotes and the fact they were not cleaned regularly  -  the most common infection is Staphylococcus, which kills about 90,000 people in the U.S. each year

The average lifespan of an Ancient Egyptian was 30 years  -  the average lifespan of a Medieval European peasant was 25 years

How a breathalyzer works:
The subject's breath is passed over a platinum electrode, which causes the alcohol to bind with oxygen, forming acetic acid - in the process it loses two electrons, a process that sets up a current in a wire connected to an electrode - the higher the concentration of alcohol in the breath, the greater the electrical current, which can be read by a simple meter to indicate intoxication levels

The continent of Asia covers 30% of the earth's surface and holds 60% of the world's human population

Currently, Belgium and the Netherlands have the lowest rates of abortion (11.2 per 100 and 10.6 per 100, respectively), while Russia (62.6 per 100) and Vietnam (43.7 per 100) have the highest rates annually

1 out of every 16 Americans has one of the 12 most common last names in the United States, such as Smith, Jones and Johnson

Wheat is grown on every continent except Antarctica

More than 60 million children worldwide shown signs of acute malnutrition, while 5 million children under age five die each year from hunger

In 1920, Socialist Eugene V. Deb received 90,000 votes for President of the United States even though he ran his entire campaign from prison

Ralph Conone, 68, was arrested in Columbus, Ohio, in March 2010 after witnesses identified him as the man who several times had walked up behind young children, punched them on the head when their parents weren't looking, and walked away as if nothing had happened. According to police, Conone confessed that he had been punching children in public since January because he liked the "excitement" of getting away with something

The city health office in London, Ontario, created an online sex-education game that officials hope will appeal to teenagers in that its messages are delivered by a cast of iconic superheroes. According to a February report by Canwest News Service, the players are Captain Condom (who wears a "cap"), Wonder Vag (a virgin girl), Power Pap ("sexually active"), and Willy the Kid, with each fighting the villain Sperminator, who wears a red wrestling mask and has phalluses for arms. The characters answer sex-knowledge questions and, with correct answers, obtain "protection," but a wrong one gets the player squirted with sperm. At press time, the game was still accessible at

Of the 2,207 people aboard the Titanic when it hit the iceberg, 1,664 (75%) were male passengers or crew members and only 438 (19.8%) were female passengers or crew members. The odds a male passenger would survive the accident were 1 in 5.91 (16.9%). The odds a female passenger would survive were 1 in 1.37 (73%). The percentage of survival for male crew members was 21% vs. a 91% survival rate for the 22 female staff on board. And the odds a child would survive were an astronomical 1 in 2.

]That 316 women and 57 children survived is evidence that the emergency protocol of “women and children” first was followed. Even among children, survival odds were split along gender lines. A girl was 62% more likely to be saved than a boy.
Two categories of women passengers were among the most fortunate:
  • Women traveling first class—they were two times more likely to survive the disaster than males traveling third class
  • Women with children fared better than either women alone, or men in any category. Seventy-four percent of women accompanying children survived
Saved (%)
% Saved
First Class
Second Class
Third Class

Monday, April 12, 2010


Ancient Greeks enjoyed take-out food and the remains of what we would consider "fast food" shops have been found in ancient ruins - the main difference between then and now is that there were no chain restaurants or standardized menus

Each domestic cow emits 105 pounds of methane per year

Some octopuses differ in size so greatly that the father will never grow to be be larger than an acorn, meanwhile the mother will mature to be the size of a human being (150 lbs or so)
Some species of bamboo grow three feet per day

In April 1974, 148 tornadoes swept the southern and mid-western portions of the United States

The pupil of an octopuses eye is rectangular

The North Atlantic gets one inch wider every year

Deserts cover 1/7 of the earth's surface

The word "windchill" is supposed to indicate how cold it feels - a windchill temperature is actually a calculation of how cold it would have to be to cause the same rate of heat loss from your skin if there no were no wind blowing - windchill approximates how cold it feels because the rate of heat loss corresponds with skin temperature, and skin temperature is what our nerves sense, but weather forecasters use the unusually high skin resistance of the 95th percentile of humans to measure windchill and therefore tend to over-estimate how cold it feels to most people

Some Biblical scholars believe that Aramaic (the language with which the ancient Bible was written) did not contain an easy way to say "many" and used the term that has come down to us to mean "forty" - which would mean that in several passages, such as "forty days and forty nights" the Bible is referring to "many" rather than a precise duration of time

A popular urban myth is that dropping a penny from a high place, such as from the top of a tall building, could kill a pedestrian below - in reality, a combination of its shape and wind friction means that tossed even from the 1250-foot high Empire State Building in New York City, the penny would travel fast enough merely to sting an unlucky passerby below

About 80% of amputees report sensations of warmth, itching, pressure, and pain emanating from the missing limb - most scientists have narrowed down the explanation to just two competing theories:  one idea is that the nerves where the limb was severed create new connections to the spinal cord and continue to send signals to the brain as if the missing limb were still there; another idea is that the brain is "hard-wired" to operate as if the body were fully intact, as if the brain were essentially maintaining a "blueprint" of the body with all the parts attached

The United States government will not allow postage stamps to portray a living person

"Jingle Bells" was originally written to be a Thanksgiving Day carol for Americans in 1857 - it is now an international Christmas carol

Albert Einstein's brain was smaller than the average male of his generation (this is because he was smaller than the average male)

A new baby typically results in about 1000 hours of lost sleep for parents in the first year of the baby's life in Western societies that now do not include extended families and kinship structures - in other parts of the world, where childcare is shared among many relatives and kin residing in or near each other, parents of newborns do not lose more than 100 hours of sleep in the first year as responsibilities are rotated among several caregivers

An ATM machine now exists at McMurdo Station in the Antarctic where the largest wintertime population is about 200 people

A medieval female physician, Dame Trotula of Salerno, is believed to be the first female gynecologist

An earthquake on December 16, 1811 caused parts of the Mississippi River to flow backwards

One year after graduating from college, women earn $.80 cents to every dollar male graduates are paid, and over the next ten years she'll earn 69% of her male colleague's wages - after adjusting for hours, occupation, parenthood, and other factors known to impact earnings, research indicates that one-quarter (or 25%) of the wage gap remains "unexplained"

It was during the Hundred Years War (which actually lasted 116 years) that direct taxation was introduced- a British invention designed to finance its war with France

Every human sheds about 40 pounds of skin in the lifetime

Among the many words invented by Shakespeare:  Assassination, Bump, Lonely, Bloodstained, and Mountaineer

The Universe contains over one billion galaxies - over 100 billion stars are in our Milky Way galaxy

About 25% of the world's population speak at least some English

The blood bank was invented by African-American physician Dr Charles Drew in 1940

36% of the population of New York City was born outside the United States, most coming from Latin America (18.9%), Asia (8.6%), and Europe (7%)

Odds that an adult American will do crossword puzzles once a week are 1 in 12.78

Even though most people say they’re against cheating, in 2001 the IRS came up short by about $290 billion  - they estimate that a full 30 to 40% of people are falsifying their filings

In March, juries in Smith County and Matagorda County in Texas sentenced Henry Wooten and Melvin Johnson III to 35 years and 60 years in prison, respectively, for possessing small amounts of drugs (but enough under Texas law to allow jurors to infer an intent to distribute). Wooten, 54, had 4.6 ounces of marijuana (same penalty as for 5 pounds), and Johnson had 1.3 grams of crack cocaine (about half the weight of a U.S. dime). (Wooten's prosecutor actually had asked the jury for a sentence of 99 years)

In January, Aretha Brown, 66, who has lived in the same house in Callahan, Florida. (pop. 962) for 30 years, suddenly became unable to leave her yard unless she crawled between CSX railroad cars blocking her access to the road. Tracks had always been in place, but the railway only began storing train cars on them this year. CSX told the Florida Times-Union that it would soon build Brown an access road to the street

Seventh-grader Rachael Greer was suspended from River Valley Middle School in Jefferson, Indiana., in February, even though she apparently did exactly what her parents and the school want kids to do ("just say 'no'" to drugs). When a classmate handed her a prescription pill in gym class, she immediately handed it right back.  Nonetheless, an assistant principal, after investigating the incident, suspended her for five days because she had touched the pill. (He expressed regret but said it is school policy)

A recent epiphany caused millionaire Austrian businessman Karl Rabeder, 47, to be depressed about his wealth, and by February, he was in the process of giving it away--an estate worth the equivalent of about $5 million. Two luxury properties are for sale, with proceeds going to charities he established in Central and South America, and he plans to move into a small hut in Innsbruck. "Money is counterproductive," he told a reporter. "I had the feeling I was working as a slave for things that I did not wish or need."

In March, on duty on opening day of the jail at the new Adair County judicial center in Columbia, Kentucky, sheriff's deputy Charles Wright accidentally locked himself in a cell and was fired after he tried to shoot open the lock

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Portland, Oregon, where it rarely snows, is located 130 miles farther north than Toronto and over 200 miles north of Boston, each being cities that experience an average of about 2 feet of snow per winter

Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Cape Town and Sydney are each thousand of miles apart but are all known for having unusually pleasant weather year-round - all are almost identical distances from the equator while the cities of San Francisco, California and Melbourne, Australia are both known for fast-changing climates and are identical distances from the equator

NERF stands for Non-Expanding Recreational Foam, and has been used to create toy products such as footballs and soccer balls that are least likely to break objects or injure humans

Nearly 30% of Dalmation dogs are born with partial or total hearing loss

The first compact discs marketed as blank CDs by SONY were available in 74-minute formats because the president of the company at that time, 1982, believed a single CD should be able to contain the longest recorded version of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

On May 14, 1918 the United States Postal Service released the first postage stamp commemorating airmail scheduled to begin the next day, but in a printing error the stamps depicted the Curtiss JN-41 biplane upside-down.  The next day, the first airmail took off as scheduled with airman George Boyle at the helm of the actual biplane.  He accidentally took off in the wrong direction and crashed- upside-down.  Boyle survived the crash, barely, in a Maryland cornfield

In 2005, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency identified a Teflon ingredient (perfluoroctanoic) as a likely carcinogen - this chemical can be found in the bloodstream of 95% of Americans

Toronto, Canada was the first city in the world with a computerized traffic signal system

The famous lover Casanova was a librarian in the years leading up to his death

Japan is home to 10% of all active volcanoes in the world

In the U.S., people in California tend to prefer crunchy peanut butter while people in New York tend to prefer creamy peanut butter

During the Manhattan Project, 18 people were injected with plutonium to test the effects of nuclear weapons on humans, which caused these people to experience very serious health problems and death - none of the test subjects were told what had been injected into them and some weren't even aware of an experiment being conducted

Nanotechnology has produced a guitar no bigger than a blood cell with six strummable strings that are each 10 micrometers long

The average human loses between 40 and 100 strands of hair per day, not all from the head

These things are FALSE:  If you can move your finger then it isn't broken; computer use causes Carpal Tunnel Syndrome; eating gelatin makes your fingernails stronger; cracking your knuckles causes arthritis

From the 1500s through the 1700s, tobacco was prescribed by physicians to cure a list of ailments including headaches, arthritis, toothaches, and bad breath

A lump of pure gold the size of a matchbox can be pressed into a sheet the size of a tennis court

Extremely high-pressured water can handily cut through a steel beam

U.S. Presidents who owned slaves:  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James Polk, Zachery Taylor, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant

After your death, if you are buried then your body's cartilage will rot faster than your bone

A growing drug problem facing Shanghai, China, is stepped-up use of methamphetamine, cocaine, and other drugs at all-night parties, but not the "rave" parties favored by young fast-lane types in the U.S. These Shanghai druggies, according to a February dispatch in London's Guardian, are often middle-aged and retired people, who use the drugs to give them strength for all-night games of Mah Jongg played at out-of-the-way parlors around the city

Michael Colquitt, 32, got a judicial order of protection in January against his father, Baptist preacher Joe Colquitt, in Alcoa, Tenn. According to Michael, Pastor Joe had threatened him at gunpoint about his poor church-attendance record

Toni Tramel, 31, angry at being jailed in Owensboro, Ky., for public intoxication in March, had "assaulting a police officer" added to the charges when, changing into a jail uniform, she allegedly pointed her lactating breast at a female officer and squirted her in the face

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