Tuesday, August 31, 2010


More than 71 million gallons of water pass over Victoria Falls in Africa every minute

The fragrant patchouli is a member of the mint family
This perennial patchouli will sprout small flowers, once slightly able to be seen already, and the plant will be very fragrant throughout its bloom
Ivory Soap was originally named P&G White Soap. In 1879, Harley Proctor found the new name during a reading in church of the 45th Psalm of the Bible: "All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad"

Americans eat less than one serving of fruit and only 1½ servings of vegetables per day. About 45 percent reported eating no fruit in a day, and one in nine said they didn't eat either fruit or vegetables - It is recommended that all people have five servings of fruits and vegetables per day but many in the world do not due to lack of access, which is not true for most Americans who do have access

Roughly 25 percent of all prescription medicines in the United States are derived from plants, including alkaloids from the rosy periwinkle of Madagascar. This plant has been successful in arresting childhood leukemia and Hodgkin's disease
Women harvest the rosy periwinkle in Madagascar as seen in the background and with this smiling worker in the foreground- workers do are hunched most of the day during the harvest
In London, it is a 24-hour detainment if caught sticking gum under a seat of a bus

The U.S. coastline, comprised of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf waters, involves 25 of the 48 mainland states 

Chocolate can be lethal to dogs. Theobromine, an ingredient that stimulates the cardiac muscle and the central nervous system, causes chocolate's toxicity. As little as two ounces of milk chocolate can be poisonous for a 10-pound puppy

The average age at which America's presidents have taken office is 54

Sixty-two degrees Fahrenheit is the minimum temperature required for a grasshopper to be able to hop

In every hour that one listens to the radio in the United States, one hears approximately 11,000 spoken words  

One Laysan albatross, tracked by biologists at Wake Forest University, flew more than 24,843 miles in flights across the North Pacific to find food for its chick in just 90 days — a flight distance equivalent to circling the globe

The number of hamburgers the McDonald’s fast-food chain has sold is 12 times the world's total population - world population is 6.7 billion

The average capacity of a pelican's pouch is 12 quarts

On a hot afternoon, the atmosphere draws up 5,500 million gallons of water an hour from the Gulf of Mexico

Cleopatra was no older than 18 when she became the queen of Egypt. Despite her glamorous image today, she is depicted on ancient coins with a long hooked nose and masculine features. Yet she was a very seductive woman. It was reported that she had a lovely singing voice, exuded great charm, and was very intelligent. She spoke nine languages (she was the first Ptolemy pharaoh who could actually speak Egyptian) and was considered a shrewd politician
The jet streams blow from the west with such a power that eastbound airliners fly across North America about an hour faster than airliners flying westward

The Federated States of Micronesia, located at the Eastern Caroline Islands in the northwest Pacific Ocean, has more than 600 islands and 40 volcanoes

All cows are females; the males are called bulls

In medieval Europe, alchemists mixed powdered gold into drinks to "comfort sore limbs," one of the earliest references to attempting to treat arthritis      

There are more than 450 species of finches throughout the world

More people are killed in Africa by crocodiles than by lions  

Following a family move, a series of studies in the United States have discovered that boys between the ages of 6 and 11 tend to have problems adjusting to new environments, particularly school. The research showed that moving during those ages could be so traumatic for boys as to cause a drop in academic achievement or even I.Q. The results were not conclusive for girls   

The softest mineral known is talc

Only one-fifth of air is oxygen - Most of the rest is nitrogen 

The most popular euphemism for vomiting in Denmark is "talking into the big phone"

Germany was the first European country to establish a system for health insurance for its workers in 1888

John Jay, the first U.S. Chief Justice, bought slaves in order to free them

About two-thirds of the world's fresh water flows out of the Amazon River in South America. The amount is so immense that fresh water can be found on the sea surface 40 miles from the river's mouth     

The cure for emphysema is cigarette smoke piped directly into the lungs, according to chemist Gretha Zahar, whose clinic has treated 60,000 people in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the past decade. Zahar (with a Ph.D from Padjadjaran University in West Java) modifies the tobacco smoke with "nanotechnology" to remove "free radicals" and adjust the mercury levels--and touts her "divine cigarettes" as cures for "all" diseases, including cancer, with only a wink of the eye from the government (which opposition leaders say is in the pocket of Indonesia's tobacco industry). Though 400,000 Indonesians die yearly from smoking-related causes, nicotine "addiction" was only reluctantly and subtly mentioned in recent regulations. One pharmacology professor said he had never heard of anyone dying of smoking, which he called a "good, cheap alternative" to expensive drugs 

Marla Gilson, 59, was fired in April after her employer callously rejected her offer to work from home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, USA at reduced salary, while she recovers from chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant for her leukemia. Gilson's job was chief executive of Association of Jewish Aging Services of North America, which serves 112 facilities that help frail and elderly Jews during their final years. Gilson's termination also made her health care much more expensive and potentially made her uninsurable in the future if her treatment is successful. (Nonetheless, the board of directors thanked her for her service and wished her a "speedy recovery")

Thomas Cavender, 60, of Bessemer City, North Carolina, USA pleaded unsuccessfully with a judge in March to remove him from the National Sex Offender Registry, to which he had been assigned as part of his sentence in 2000 for molesting a third-grade girl.  Cavender told the judge that he had become a preacher and evangelist and that it "hurts my ministry when you're in the pulpit, and someone goes to the computer, and there you are"

In April, two police constables in North London, England, threatened Louise Willows with arrest for criminal damage and forced her to clean her artwork from a city sidewalk. Willows had cleared off 25 deposits of droppings that dog-walkers had failed to remove and in their place drawn pink cupcakes in chalk (with a nearby message, "Dog owners, Please clear up your dog's mess.  Children walk here") 

Monday, August 30, 2010


Ancient Greeks believed that wearing amethysts would help prevent a person from getting drunk

At the 2000 Samsung Open, a furious Goran Ivanisevic smashed three rackets - he was then forced to withdraw from the competition when he didn’t have a fourth racket on hand to use 
An official holds up the three smashed rackets for photographers- the rackets had been left on the court

Worcestershire sauce was invented accidentally by Brits trying to recreate the flavors in Indian food

Contrary to the widely held belief, there are no wild tigers in Africa - tigers are native to eastern and southern Asia

The average life span of London residents in the middle of the 19th century was 27 years. For members of the working class, that number dropped to 22 years 

During the early 1920s, at the height of the inflation in the German Weimar Republic, one American dollar was equal to 4 trillion German marks

Edgar Allen Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor and literary critic - He was expelled from West Point for showing up for a public parade wearing only a white belt and gloves
Humans have between 100 trillion to 1 quadrillion living cells in their bodies
While Arabic is the official language in Lebanon, French and English are widely spoken and taught in the schools

In medieval times, church bells were often consecrated to ward off evil spirits. Because thunderstorms were attributed to the work of demons, the bells would be rung in an attempt to stop the storms. Numerous bellringers were killed by lightning

There are more than 300 references to sheep and lambs, more than any other animal, in the Bible's Old Testament, one of the earliest records of sheep

Generally, the higher a dog’s cholesterol, the more likely they are to chase their tail - especially if they’re female

The tallest known mountain in the solar system is on one of the smallest planets: Mars’ Olympus Mons, which stands an incredible 15 miles tall

Turkana tribesmen, who live on the barren soils of the Great Rift Valley in Kenya, add iron to their diet by drinking cow's blood - they puncture the cow's jugular vein with a sharp arrow and catch the spurting liquid in a clay jug. The cows, though bled frequently, suffer no ill effect

The female condor lays a single egg once every 1-2 years once she reaches age 5 - The condor is the largest flying bird in the Western Hemisphere and is a vulture - They live for 50-60 years, and one on record in California lived to be 100 

The average “album” length has increased from 40 minutes in the LP era to well over an hour in the CD era -  Most double-album LPs can fit onto a single CD

Those few folks who have survived a jump from the Golden Gate Bridge report that it takes about four seconds to hit the water

Harvard research from 2003 revealed that mothers pregnant with male babies tend to eat more than those carrying females

According to the latest research by physicists, the proton seems to be 0.00000000000003 millimeter smaller than researchers previously thought

The prominent Howrah bridge in Calcutta, India, has become a serious safety risk, according to a May report for the Calcutta Port Trust, because the steel hoods protecting the pillars holding up the bridge have been thinned by 50 percent in recent years. Engineers believe the corrosion has been caused almost entirely by the chemicals in gutkha, the popular chewing tobacco/herb concoction, which produces expectorants routinely hocked onto the bridge by the 500,000 pedestrians who cross it every day

A severe but underappreciated American drug problem (sometimes deadly and often expensive) is patients' failure to take prescribed medications--even to save their own lives (such as with anti-coagulants or cholesterol-regulating statins). In recent pilot programs, according to a June New York Times report, compliance rates have been significantly improved--by giving patients money ($50 to $100 a month, sometimes more) if they remember to take their drugs. Data show that, indeed, such compliance subsidies
reduce society's overall healthcare costs by preventing expensive hospital admissions. In the trials, patients must demonstrate their irresponsibility before being eligible for payments 

Arizona (viewed by some as hard-hearted for its April law stepping up vigilance for illegal immigrants by allowing law enforcement to stop anyone they suspected may not be a legal citizen of the United States) showed a soft side recently, implementing a $1.25 million federal grant that it believes will save the lives of at least five squirrels a year. The state's 250 endangered Mount Graham red squirrels (pictured below) risk becoming roadkill on Route 366 near Pima, and the state is building a rope bridge for them to add to several existing tunnels 

On television in May, the governor of the Russian republic of Kalmykia, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, recounted that he had been abducted in a spaceship in 1997 and forced to communicate with aliens telepathically, and later entertained some in his apartment. One opponent seized the moment and called for an inquiry into whether Ilyumzhinov had telepathically spilled government secrets while under the aliens' spell. Then, former world chess champion Anatoly Karpov announced he would challenge Ilyumzhinov for the position of head of the World Chess Federation (which Ilyumzhinov has been since 1993), but yet another Russian chess icon, Arkady Dvorkovich (who is President Medvedev's chief economic advisor), said he still backed Ilyumzhinov because of the latter's superior managerial ability

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Gray whales migrate 12,000 miles each year, farther than any other mammal - The whale feeds mainly on benthic crustaceans which it eats by turning on its side (usually the right, resulting in loss of eyesight in the right eye for many older animals) and scooping up sediments from the sea floor

A quart-size pail holds 8 million grains of sand

Elephant tusks grow throughout an elephant's life and can weigh more than 200 pounds. Among Asian elephants, only the males have tusks. Both sexes of African elephants have tusks

According to the Public Carriage Office, a branch of the Metropolitan Police that licenses all cabs and drivers, there are more than 23,000 cabbies working in London, England. All are self-employed and none has a police record

The Irish harp tradition is particularly special because of its ancient method of oral transmission – all teaching of the instrument is done "by ear". This method allows performers to be creative and individualistic within the Irish style

The male moose sheds its antlers every winter and grows a new set the following year - this helps the male conserve energy.  Female moose do not have antlers
An adult male red moose in winter sans antlers
A rarity in birds, geese are among the very few in which the family stays together at the end of the breeding season. Parents and the young raised during the summer establish strong family bonds and do not break up for about a year. In the fall, geese migrate in flocks that contain other family units, and each family stays together on the wintering grounds

The male house wren builds several nests as part of his attempt to attract a mate. Once the nests are completed, the female inspects each, then selects one as her preferred choice for the laying of her eggs  

In 1615, the English explorer William Baffin penetrated to within 800 miles of the North Pole. For the next 250 years, no one else got nearer

The final resting place for Dr. Eugene Shoemaker: the Moon. The famed U.S. Geological Survey astronomer had trained the Apollo mission astronauts about craters, but never made it into space. Dr. Shoemaker had wanted to be an astronaut but was rejected because of a medical problem. His ashes were placed on board the Lunar Prospector spacecraft before it was launched on January 6, 1998. NASA crashed the probe into a crater on the moon on July 31, 1999, in an attempt to learn if there is water on the Moon

The thumb has its own special section in the brain, separate from the area that controls the fingers

In 18th century English gambling dens, there was an employee whose only job was to swallow the dice if there was a police raid

The blue whale weighs as much as thirty elephants, and is as long as three full-size passenger buses       

As many as 50 gallons of maple sap are needed to make a single gallon of maple sugar
A line of trees in Vermont, USA are tapped for maple syrup that is collected into the attached buckets
There are more than 15,000 different varieties of rice

Belgium and the Netherlands have an underground boundary that differs from the surface boundary shown on maps. In 1950, the two countries agreed to move the underground boundary so as not to divide coal mines between the two countries

The human heart rests between beats. In an average lifetime of 70 years, the total resting time is estimated to be about 40 years

Lightning has hit the Empire State Building in New York as frequently as 12 times in 20 minutes. The building is hit by lightning about 500 times a year

According to a 2005 survey, ten percent of American households leave milk and cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve

The Pima Indians of Gila River Reservation, south of Phoenix, Arizona, USA have the highest rate of diabetes in the world.  In the US, Native American Indians have the highest rate of diabetes than any other racial group

Americans purchase an average of 100 cans of Campbell's Soup every second of every day in the month of January

In 1969, the Navy spent $375,000 on an "aerodynamic analysis of the self-suspended flare." The study's conclusion was that the frisbee was not feasible as military hardware  

A queen bee may lay as many as 3,000 eggs in a single day

The largest lake in Australia is Eyre, measuring 3,420 square miles (8,885 sq. km)

In January 2010, the UK government admitted that the British-made "magic wand" bomb-detector its own Department of Trade and Industry was promoting for export to police in Mexico and the Philippines was useless (no better than a Ouija board). Earlier, several British firms had sold thousands to Iraqi police at dollar-equivalents of $16,000-$60,000 (from a manufacturing cost of about $20 each). Furthermore, according to City of London police, "hundreds" of Iraqis had died in Baghdad after suicide bombers were mistakenly allowed into secure areas after being "cleared" by the wands. In January 2011, BBC News reported that a new British company, Unival, featuring a respected retired Army colonel as spokesman, had resumed selling the wands, to Bulgarian police 

Sigudur Hjartarson's life's work is his Phallological Museum in the fishing town of Husavik, Iceland. As the world's only all-penis attraction, it draws tourists by the thousands, eager to see the 276-specimen collection of desicated or stuffed organs from a wide range of animals. However, only in April (15 years after it opened)
did the Museum acquire a human penis, donated by the late Pall Arason, an acquaintance who, said Hjartarson, "liked to be in the limelight . . . to be provocative" 
Hjartarson’s museum started in Reykjavik but has since moved to Husavik, a small community better known for its whale watching. The Phallological Museum is an important part of the region’s tourist industry, bringing in thousands of visitors every summer
The Sergeants Benevolent Association, fighting back in April 2011 against corruption charges (that its NYPD
officers often "fix" traffic tickets for celebrities, high officials, and selected "friends") claimed in a recorded message reported in the New York Times that such fixes are merely "courtesy," not corruption 

A 20-year-old Jersey City, New Jersey gym member claimed "criminal sexual contact" in March, acknowledging that while she had given a male club therapist permission to massage her breasts and buttocks, she had been under the impression that he is gay. When another gym member told her that the therapist has a
girlfriend, she called the police 

Saturday, August 28, 2010


After his death in 896, the body of Pope Formosus was dug up and tried for various crimes

Nothing can be burned again that has already been burned once

More than 70 percent of all bagel shops in the United States are found in New York, New Jersey, Florida, and California

Fifteen percent of Americans say they follow news about U.S. relations with other countries " very closely," another 50 percent follow it "somewhat closely," while 34 percent admit to not following it closely or, in some cases, not at all 

The chameleon has a tongue that is sometimes as much as 1.5 times the length of its body 
Chameleons feed on grasshoppers, locusts, and insects mainly
The hydrochloric acid of the human digestive process is so strong a corrosive that it easily can eat its way through a cotton handkerchief, and even through the iron of an automobile body. Yet, it doesn't endanger the stomach's sticky mucus walls - This mucus lining is replaced every two weeks, otherwise the stomach would digest itself

The average male adult can bench-press 88 percent of his body weight, having 70 to 80 pounds of muscle

It is a comparatively recent insight that light travels from the object to the eye. Until about 400 years ago, it was thought that there was "something" in the eye that went out and saw the object

The average speed of an avalanche is 22 miles per hour

Europe and the Soviet Union grow 75 percent of the world crop of potatoes. In a good year, the Russians, who call potatoes their "second bread," account for one-third of the world's crop

Horse racing is one of the most ancient sports, originating in Central Asia among prehistoric nomadic tribesmen around 4500 B.C. When humans began keeping written records, horse racing was already an organized sport throughout the world

The average human heart beats about 100,000 times every 24 hours. In a 72-year lifetime, the heart beats more than 2.5 billion times

The burrowing boodie of Australia, also known as the burrowing bettong, is the only kangaroo in the world that lives underground  
To many in North America and other places, this species of kangaroo looks more like a mouse

While reading a page of print, the eyes do not move continually across the page. They move in a series of jumps, called "fixations," from one clump of words to the next 

The average pool cue is 57 inches long

On the average, more animals are killed by motorists in cars and trucks than by hunters with guns  

Twenty-four frames per second are projected in most animated films

Antarctica is the only continent without reptiles

Anthropologists believe that people have been making and wearing shoes for more than 10,000 years. The Egyptians wore sandals woven from papyrus leaves

The soft mass of the adult brain is motionless. Though it consumes up to 25 percent of the blood's oxygen supply, it does not grow, divide, or contract

According to a 2005 Gallup Poll, 39 percent of Americans found the Christmas holidays more stressful than enjoyable. Those with the lowest incomes were most likely to find the season stressful, perhaps reflecting their inability to participate fully in the commercial, gift-giving aspects of the holiday  

In 1893, Chicago hired its first female police officer. Her name was Marie Owens and she worked as a detective

A garter snake can give birth to 85 babies

The most densely populated state in the United States is New Jersey

Someone with an irrational fear of meat is "carnophobic"

The hippopotamus has the world's shortest sperm

The last American president to sport facial hair was William Howard Taft, who left office in 1913. He had a mustache
Taft was also the most overweight President in US history, weighing over 300 pounds.  After embarrassingly getting stuck in the White House bathtub, he had a special tub made for his bathing to accommodate his size
Socrates, one of the most famous Greek philosophers, never wrote down a single word of his teachings. The only knowledge we have of his thinking today comes from the notes taken by his student, Plato 

The average minimal speed of birds in order to remain aloft in flight is reported to be about 16½ feet per second, or about 11 miles per hour

One square inch of skin on the human hand contains some 72 feet of nerve fiber 

The German chemist Johann Friedrich Böttger was the first European to discover how to make porcelain in 1708  

There are more people in New York City (8,295,563) than there are in the states of Alaska, Vermont, Wyoming, South Dakota, New Hampshire, Nevada, Idaho, Utah, Hawaii, Delaware, and New Mexico combined  

There are five types of simple machines: the lever, the pulley, the inclined plane, the screw, and the wheel and axle

A "hairbreadth away" is 1/48 of an inch

In December 2010, near Ocala, Florida a 39-year-old driver survived a rollover but was accidentally run over and killed by a responding Marion County sheriff's deputy, and in April 2011 in Baldwin Park, California an arriving ambulance fatally struck a 22-year-old accident victim who was, until that moment, not seriously

In 2007 Australian Wayne Scullino, then 30, quit his job in Sydney and somehow convinced his wife they should sell their house and move to Wisconsin for the sole purpose of rooting for the Green Bay Packers, about which he had enjoyed an inexplicable fascination since age 15. Said Scullino, "At some point, you've got
to . . . start living the life you want to." After one season, the Scullinos returned home, but in February 2011, he was back in the U.S., on hand in Dallas for the Packers' victory in Super Bowl XLV. Scullino says his Australian friends are still bewildered. "I try to talk to them about it," he said, "but they just don't get it"

The notorious U.S. military contractor KBR, prominent for having earned several billion dollars from no-bid contracts during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and which has been accused of numerous employee sexual harassment cover-ups (including nine pending lawsuits filed by female employees), has apparently been voted by readers of Woman Engineer magazine as one of the top 50 places for women to work. (KBR and other companies on the list made announcements in April, but at press time, Woman Engineer's issue containing the list had not been published)

Nursery school teacher Elizabeth Davies, 48, was fired in February from Hafod Primary School in Swansea, Wales, after accusations that she had sprayed pine-scented room-freshener on kids who passed gas and on Bangladeshis who had come to class reeking of curry and onions. Of the latter, she reportedly said,  "There is a waft coming in from paradise"

Friday, August 27, 2010


In 1916, Jones Wister of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania invented a rifle for shooting around corners. It had a curved barrel and periscopic sights

When used by an ornithologist, the word "lore" refers to the space between a bird's eye and its beak

Grasshopper Glacier in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana was named for the tens of millions of grasshoppers (locusts) that have been found entombed in the ice, some for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years. Many of the grasshoppers are now extinct and their high level of preservation allowed early researchers to send some specimens to entomologists for identification. It was during this research that it was discovered that some of the grasshoppers were from the now extinct species Melanoplus spretus–(the Rocky Mountain locust), known to have existed at least up to the beginning of the 20th century
Springtime on Grasshopper Glacier in the Beartooth Mountains of Montana
Isaac Newton estimated correctly that the Earth had a mass of 6,600,000,000,000,000,000,000 tons and a density of about five-and-a-half times that of water. The fact wasn't demonstrated until one century after his estimate 

During a severe windstorm or rainstorm, the Empire State Building may sway several feet to either side - The building was designed to absorb this motion and people inside the building do not feel the shifts

While awake, hummingbirds must eat at least every 30 minutes or they will starve to death. They need to eat 2.5 times their body weight every day, which requires feeding on hundreds of flowers  - They are among the smallest of birds, and include the smallest extant bird species, the Bee Hummingbirds. They can hover in mid-air by rapidly flapping their wings 12–90 times per second (depending on the species). They can also fly backwards, and are the only group of birds able to do so.  Their English name derives from the characteristic hum made by their rapid wing beats
They can fly at speeds exceeding 15 m/s (54 km/h, 34 mi/h)
The first minimum wage in the United States, of twenty-five cents, was established by Congress in 1938 - Germany, Sweden and Denmark are examples of developed nations where there is no minimum wage that is required by legislation. Instead, minimum wage standards in different sectors are set by collective bargaining of employee unions

The Coast Guard Academy in July of 1976 was the first U.S. service academy to admit women

The water of the Dead Sea is seven to eight times saltier than ocean water

Every 9.6 years, there is a peak in Canada wildlife population, especially among the muskrats, red fox, skunks, mink, lynx, and rabbits. The population of grasshoppers of the world tends to rise and fall rhythmically in 9.2 year cycles  

The Tuna Club in southern California is the oldest fishing club in the country. Its members have included Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, General George S. Patton, Charlie Chaplin, and Bing Crosby - It was opened in 1898 coinciding with the real estate boom of the Catalina area of California in the 1880s
Tuna Club, 1920.  The building and land are now registered national landmarks.
The human heart beats faster during a brisk walk or heated argument than during sexual intercourse  

Jupiter is the largest planet, and it has the shortest day. Although Jupiter has a circumference of 280,000 miles, compared with Earth's 25,000, Jupiter manages to make one turn in 9 hours and 55 minutes

The most venomous of all snakes, known as the Inland Taipan, has enough venom in one bite to kill more than 200,000 mice, and is native to Australia
Inland Taipan, also known as Fierce Snake
Dry ice does not melt. It sublimes, which means it goes directly from solid form to gaseous form

In a traditional French restaurant kitchen, a "garde-manger" is responsible for salads

The first time an enormous amount of clothing was needed all at once was during the American Civil War, when the Union needed hundreds of thousands of uniforms for its troops. Out of this need came the ready-made clothing industry

Silly Putty started as a mistake in a New Haven laboratory, and turned into a consumer hit in the 1960s by sheer chance. According to engineers, Silly Putty is a self-contradiction. Chemically, it is a liquid, but it resembles a solid. The molecular structure will stretch if the structure is slowly pulled. But if tugged, it snaps apart. The toy has a rebound capacity of 75 to 80 percent, whereas a rubber ball has only about a 50-percent bounce-back. A silicon derivative, Silly Putty won't rot; it can withstand temperatures from -70 degrees Fahrenheit to hundreds degrees above zero

Hailed as a wonder drug in the late nineteenth century, cocaine was not outlawed in the United States until 1914 

It is estimated that a single toad may catch and eat as many as 10,000 insects in the course of a summer

Virgin Atlantic Airways discovered that it takes in an average of 18 cents per passenger per flight in loose change found in the plane's seats. If that figure holds for the approximate 320 million people who fly from one country to another worldwide each year, the total is about $58 million. Lost coins on domestic flights don't amount to much, however. Chicago O'Hare cleaning crews said they found only about 6 cents per flight. It is suggested that more travelers to other countries "accidentally" leave foreign coins behind to avoid dealing with them once they get home   

Until 1940, a candidate for the U.S. Naval Academy was rejected if it was discovered that he masturbated  

1159 — Pope Adrian IV, the only English pope (born Nicholas Breakspeake), choked to death on a fly he swallowed in his wine. There’s some suggestion it might have been tonsillitis

The largest light bulb was a 1-foot-long 75,000-watt bulb, hand-blown at the Corning Glass Works, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Thomas Edison's invention of the incandescent lamp

Prevailing medical authority 20 years ago warned that few humans could survive blood-alcohol readings above .40 (percent), but in recent years, drivers have rather easily survived higher numbers (curiously, many from Wisconsin, such as the man in February 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin with a .559). (In 2007, an Oregon driver was found unconscious, but survived, with a .72 reading.) The plethora of high numbers might indicate mistaken medical teaching, or nonstandard machine measurements- or even a particular hardiness in some American drinkers 

Young girls "grow up" prematurely, often aided by hungry retailers such as the U.S.'s Abercrombie & Fitch and the British clothiers Primark, and Matalan, each of which this spring began offering lines of padded bras for girls as young as seven (eight at Abercrombie & Fitch for the "Ashley Push-Up Triangle"), with Matalan offering one in size "28aa."  

Recently, Owlchemy Labs, a Massachusetts technology company, announced plans to release an iPhone/iPad "app," "Smuggle Truck," a video game in which players compete to drive a pickup truck full of illegals over rocky terrain from Mexico into the U.S. without too many passengers bouncing out (and with in-game "additions" consisting of pregnant women giving birth enroute). Special "green cards" are awarded to winners. (Update: At present, Apple has rejected the "app," and Owlchemy said it would alter the game to one of animals escaping from a forest)

Local councils that govern life in the United Kingdom seem overly frightened of liability lawsuits--even from criminals who might get hurt while committing crimes. London's Daily Telegraph and the Surrey Mirror reported in February that police in the counties of Kent and Surrey had been advising homeowners and
merchants to avoid using wire mesh on windows because burglars could seriously gouge themselves while climbing through. Also, electrical engineer David Bishop said police seemed especially concerned that burglars could be electrocuted if they broke into his workshop and thus advised him to post a warning sign outside that
could be seen in the dark

Thursday, August 26, 2010


According to a survey by the National Mental Health Association (US), nearly half of all psychiatrists have been attacked by one of their patients

Anthropologists have discovered that the Incas and certain other pre-Columbian tribes in Peru developed the decimal system hundreds of years before it was used in Europe

Astronomers believe that the universe contains one atom for every 88 gallons of space

In New York City, Consolidated Edison has more than 80,500 miles (129,524 kilometers) of underground electrical cable in the city. Some of the power is purchased from Hydro-Quebec, a sprawling series of hydroelectric dams that harness the power of the La Grande River in northern Quebec and Ontario

Camel milk is the only milk that doesn't curdle when boiled

Men over the age of 24 without beards shave an average of six times a week  

Laughing is aerobic: It provides a workout for the diaphragm and increases the body's ability to use oxygen 

You blink every 2-10 seconds. As you focus on each word in this sentence, your eyes swing back and forth 100 times a second, and every second, the retina performs 10 billion computer-like calculations

A mature, well-established termite colony with as many as 60,000 members will eat only about one-fifth of an ounce of wood a day
Mice, whales, elephants, giraffes, and humans all have seven neck vertebra

The first toy product ever advertised on American television was Mr. Potato Head®. Introduced in 1952, Mr. Potato Head® took advantage of TV's explosive growth to gain access to tens of millions of newly "plugged-in" households   
Original Mr. Potato Head game, 1952
 A python can swallow a rabbit whole and may eat as many as 150 mice in a 6-month period

The human heart creates enough pressure when it pumps out to the body to squirt blood 30 feet

Mechanical clocks were invented in the late Middle Ages. The length of an hour had varied prior to that, depending on the time of year

Pope Julius II set the time of his coronation in 1503 according to astrological calculations, despite the fact that the church during the Renaissance frowned on the occult as bordering on heresy

The majestic Habsburg's Schounbraun Palace in Vienna has 1,441 rooms, of which 40 are opened to public tours. At age six, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed for the royals in this palace

While many people believe that a camel's humps are used for water storage, they are actually made up of fat. The hump of a well-rested, well-fed camel can weigh up to eighty pounds    

Every day in the U.S., about a hundred people over the age of 14 commit suicide, a 50 percent "jump" in the last decade

A chicken will lay bigger and stronger eggs if you change the lighting in such a way as to make them think a day is 28 hours long

St. Francis, founder of the Franciscan religious order in 1209, was a layman born rich. When he embarked on a career of charity, his father disowned him      

Noology derives from the Greek words νοῦς "mind" and λόγος "logos". Noology thus outlines a systematic study and organization of everything dealing with knowing and knowledge, i.e.: cognitive neuroscience. It is also used to describe the science of intellectual phenomena. It is the study of images of thought, their emergence, their genealogy, and their creation 

Virginia Dare, born in 1587 on Roanoke Island, was the first child born of English parents in the New World

There are about 2 million sweat glands in the average human body. The average adult loses 540 calories with every liter of sweat. Men sweat about 40% more than women

Indonesia is the world's largest producer of liquefied natural gas

When potatoes first appeared in Europe in the 17th century, it was thought that they were disgusting and were blamed for starting outbreaks of leprosy and syphilis. As late as 1720 in America, eating potatoes was believed to shorten a person's life  

The first successful parachute jump to be made from a moving airplane was made by Captain Berry at St. Louis, Missouri, in 1912
Barry poses on the left standing near the plane, while on the right he jumps with his parachute and a harness that provided an almost-seated position

A snake's stomach is located in the front one-fifth portion of its body

All mammals have tongues

Sunbeams that shine down through clouds are called crepuscular rays    

At Clive's, of Victoria, British Columbia, Glenfiddich Scotch whiskey is only one ingredient in the signature
cocktail, "Cold Night In," which, according to a January New York Times review, combines "molecular mixology" and comfort food.  An especially buttery grilled-cheese sandwich is soaked overnight in the Scotch, along with Mt. Gay rum and Lillet Blanc wine.  Following a brief freeze to congeal any remaining fat, and double-straining, it is ready to serve--with a celery stick and other garnishments 

Equal justice under the law might just depend simply on whether a judge's stomach is growling when he or she pronounces sentence, according to a study of 1,000 parole decisions during 50 courtroom days observed by students from Columbia University and Israel's Ben Gurion University for an April journal article. The students
found that, day after day, judges were increasingly stingy with parole as a morning or afternoon session wore on but that dramatic spikes in generosity took effect immediately following lunch or a snack break. The lead researcher, Columbia Prof. Jonathan Levav, expressed satisfaction with the scholarship but disappointment "as a citizen" with the findings 

Motorist Joel Dobrin, 32, was pulled over in a traffic stop in February in Moro, Oregon and rushed to hide his alleged drug stash, which was in a sock.  However, his dog intercepted the sock for an impromptu game of
dog-tug-of-war in the car. Dobrin won but lost his grip, and the sock flew out the driver's window, right in front of the officer.  Dobrin was cited, and later indicted, for drug possession

Dalia Dippolito, 30, of Boynton Beach, Florida was convicted in May 2011 of hiring a hit man to kill her husband, but not before offering an ultra-modern defense: Her lawyer told the jury that it was all a fake scheme to pitch a reality-TV show about one spouse's ordering a hit on the other (and that her husband Michael had originally come up with the idea). As Dippolito's plan unfolded, her boyfriend alerted police, who set up a sting and witnessed Dippolito dictating exactly what she wanted done. (In fact, the sting itself was captured on video for the "Cops" TV show.) Michael denied any involvement, and the jury appeared not to give her story any credence

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Annie Oakley, (August 13, 1860 – November 3, 1926), born Phoebe Ann Mosey, was an American sharpshooter and exhibition shooter. Oakley's amazing talent and timely rise to fame led to a starring role in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, which propelled her to become the first American female superstar. Using a .22 caliber rifle at 90 feet Oakley reputedly could split a playing card edge-on and put five or six more holes in it before it touched the ground - upon retirement she had all of her gold shooting medals melted down, then sold the gold and gave the money to charity
Oakley poses with her rifle, about age 21.  She never married.
There are 640 acres in a square mile

Light from the moon takes about a second and a half to reach Earth

Some form of bowling is played in more than 90 countries around the world. Approximately 100 million people participate in bowling today

A fireplace is called a "mantelpiece" because, at one time, people hung their coats (or "mantles") over the fireplace to dry them

The female anglerfish is six times larger than her mate. The male anchors himself to the top of her head and stays there for the rest of his life. They literally become one. Their digestive and circulatory systems are merged. Except for two very large generative organs and a few fins, nothing remains of the male
This female has already begun absorbing the male, while part of him remains visible atop her head
Thomas Edison, "the Wizard of Menlo Park," established an "invention factory," the first industrial research laboratory, with the hope of producing a new invention every ten days. In one 4-year period, he obtained 300 patents, or one every five days

Thirteen popes were named Leo, including Leo the Great, who prevented the Huns from sacking Rome. Six emperors of Constantinople were also called Leo. The continuing popularity of the name probably stems for it association with the lion, long considered the king of beasts

The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words. More than 2 billion pencils are manufactured in the U.S. annually. If these were laid end to end, they would circle the earth nine times

The game of a cats’ cradle – two players alternately strength a looped string over their fingers to produce different designs – has been around since about 1760

Giant hornet workers capture a variety of insects, including bees and yellowjackets, to feed their young. Workers strip back bark from shrubs – a favorite is lilac. As they girdle the branches, they lick the sap from the torn edge
Birth defects in Moscow are alarmingly high. The infant death rate stands at 15 per 1,000 live births, nearly twice the U.S. rate

The term "feather in your cap" came from the American Indian tradition of obtaining feathers for headdresses. Birds were captured, some feathers plucked, and the birds were released. Each feather represented an act of bravery. The fashion of decorating hats with feathers declined in the twentieth century because too many birds were being slaughtered for their feathers - the term refers to an accomplishment or something done well

A robin has nearly 3,000 feathers

The peacock is the national bird of India

Between the mid-1860's and 1883, the bison population in North America was reduced from an estimated 13 million to a few hundred

Goombay is the native music of the Bahamas. Goombay achieves its unique rhythm and style by merging native folk songs with percussion effects from Haiti and Cuba
A line of drummers, horn players, and others in traditional dress at a Goombay Festival that is an annual event in Key West, Florida, USA
The National Institute of Mental Health (United States) places fear of flying (aerophobia), second only to fear of public speaking 

Only three percent of the energy the atmosphere receives is converted into movement or kinetic energy

Louis XIV owned 413 beds

Miami Beach pharmacist Benjamin Green invented the first suntan cream by cooking cocoa butter in a granite coffee pot on his wife's stove, and then testing the batch on his own head. His invention was introduced as Coppertone Suntan Cream in 1944

The ice cream cone was introduced in 1904 at the St. Louis World Fair when a waffle vendor rolled waffles into the shape of a cone for an ice cream vendor at an adjoining booth

The third Challenger flight carried the first African-American into space, Guion Blufo, Jr., on August 30, 1983. A weather/communications satellite was launched for India during the flight  

Hollywood Memorial Park is provides visitors with "star maps" to find celebrity's graves 

In the floor of Westminster Abbey is a tiny stone marking the burial place of the British Renaissance playwright and poet Ben Jonson (1572-1637). Despite enjoying respectable success in the arts and serving as a major influence on seventeenth-century poets, the death of King James I ended Jonson's period of court favor. Jonson was too poor to pay for the normal grave space, so he is buried standing up

It is forbidden to take photographs at a Quaker wedding

A giraffe's sticky, black tongue can be more than 18 inches long and is used to gather food into the mouth. Males typically feed with their head and neck at full vertical stretch, often with their tongues extended to reach the shoots on the underside of the mature tree canopy. Females feed at the body or knee height, with their necks curled over

Without using precision instruments, Eratosthenes measured the radius of Earth in the third century B.C.E., and came within 1 percent of the value determined by today's technology 

About 27 tons of dust rains down on the earth each day from space, making a total of almost 10,000 tons each year

The first portable calculator placed on sale by Texas Instruments and marketed in the US weighed  2-1/2 pounds and cost $150 in 1972

Arrested in Aurora, Colorado in January 2011 and charged with stalking his wife:  Joseph Moron

Appointed to a senior executive position in January 2011 in the global communications firm Alcatel-Lucent:
George Nazi

Arrested for dealing marijuana in March in Fairfax County, Virginia:  Kevin Lee Cokayne

Appointed as interim Chief Medical Officer of Newhall Memorial Hospital in Santa Clarita, California in March 2011:  Dr. Richard Frankenstein

Arrested for DUI in April by a California Highway Patrolman ("CHiP"):  Eric Estrada (not the actor) 

Posthumously rejected as the namesake for the new government office center in Fort Wayne, Indianna in March 2011:  former Fort Wayne mayor Harry Baals (pronounced "bales" by his descendants but always "balls" by Mr. Baals, himself)

Monday, August 23, 2010


The nose print of a dog is like the fingerprint of a person – no two are alike

Despite being staples of the Old West landscape, neither horses nor tumbleweeds are native to North America

At 6000 degrees Kelvin, the surface of the Sun is actually one of its coolest spots - Both the Sun’s interior and its corona measure in the millions of degrees Kelvin

Henry Ford was a proponent of hiring the handicapped - In 1919, more than 20% of his workforce had some form of disability, a higher percentage than most workplaces in America today

Russia’s Sergei Avdeyev has traveled further than any other human in history, completing nearly 12,000 orbits of the Earth as a cosmonaut

Earth’s largest national park is the North-East Greenland Park in Greenland, covering more than 375,000 square miles (more than twice the size of California)

Wonder Woman was created by Psychologist William Moulton Marsten (May 9, 1893 – May 2, 1947), who is also credited as the inventor of the systolic blood-pressure test, a component of the modern polygraph machine - he was known as a feminist theorist, inventor, and comic book writer and based the "super hero" Wonder Woman on the two most influential women in his life- his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marsten, and Olive Byrne, who was a lover to the couple in a polyamorous relationship

So-called white chocolate isn’t chocolate in the technical sense — it is comprised of cocoa butter, sugar and milk, but no actual chocolate

Grant Wood, famous for his painting American Gothic, won a Crayola crayon coloring contest as a child, which helped perpetuate his interest in art - he painted American Gothic in 1930 with a cottage built in the Gothic Revival style with a distinctive upper window as inspiration.  The couple that appears in the foreground, he claimed, were "people I fancied would live in that house"

In 1959, the USSR launched a craft called the Mechta towards the Moon. It missed, and instead became (inadvertently) the first human-made satellite to go into orbit around the Sun

Only one U.S. coin — the zinc-coated steel penny produced during World War II — can be picked up by a magnet

Orang means “man” in Malay and hutan means forest so orangutan means “man of the forest”

The phrase “goody two shoes” comes from a fable written in 1766 by Oliver Goldsmith, about a poor little girl who could only afford one shoe

Koalas aren’t bears, but marsupials - no bears are native to Australia

The third most-used language in the United States is American Sign Language

In the United States, 1 in 5 relationships begins through an online dating service or social networking sites such as facebook or MySpace

The split-fingered Vulcan salute from Star Trek is derived from an Orthodox Jewish ritual called the Blessing Hands, used to anoint congregations on holy days. Leonard Nimoy, whose grandfather was Orthodox, remembered the hand gesture from his childhood visits to the synagogue with his grandfather and borrowed it for his role as Mr. Spock  (Pictured below is actor Leonard Nimoy, in character as Spock, giving the famous split-fingered salute that was usually followed by the words "Live long and prosper"

There is one strand of corn silk for each kernel on an ear of corn

Only sparkling white wine that comes from the Champagne region of France, in the northeastern part of the country, can be called champagne. And that’s not a suggestion; in Europe, it’s the law. In fact, France’s ownership of the word was actually reaffirmed in 1919’s Treaty of Versailles. But here’s the loophole: Because the United States never ratified the Treaty of Versailles, it became perfectly legal to call American sparkling wine “champagne”

The first ferris wheel was built by a man named George Ferris in 1893 for the Chicago Worlds Fair or the Columbian Exposition. It was intended to upstage the Eiffel Tower which was the main attraction from the 1889 Paris Exhibition. The Ferris Wheel was 264 feet and carried 2,160 people in 36 cars  (Pictured below is the original Ferris Wheel- look closely to notice the width of the enclosed seats, which were meant to hold several people at once unlike most wheels today that are designed to hold just two or three riders in each car)

In the early 1900s, jugglers and acrobats, not singers and rappers, kept their eye on Billboard magazine each week. In those days, the magazine served as the insider’s guide for the traveling fair and carnival crowd, ranking them much like albums and songs are ranked today

William Shatner (Captain Kirk from Stak Trek) could never spread his fingers in the Vulcan greeting unless the studio crew taped or tied fishing line around his fingers

The letter J was the last letter added to the English Alphabet. Before that, the letter I was used in its place. U was the second last letter added, and usually replaced by V

Shel Silverstein, children’s poet and illustrator, got his start drawing cartoons for Playboy

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the acclaimed genius behind detective Sherlock Holmes, was later labeled a fanatical Spiritualist. Many of Sir Arthur’s decisions later in life were influenced by the advice of his guide Pheneas, the spirit channeled by his medium wife, the Lady Doyle

John Harvard was technically not the founder of Harvard University. It was first known as New College, and was established in 1636 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was only after the young Puritan minister passed away in 1638, leaving much of his estate to the institution, that the school was renamed for him in 1639

The “K” in Kmart stands for Kresge, as in the chain’s founder, Sebastian S. Kresge

The true formal name of the famous statue standing in New York harbor is not ‘The Statue of Liberty”. It was named ” Liberty Enlightening the World” by its sculptor Frederic Bartholdi, who fashioned the statue’s likeness after his mother

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the US but has the longest name:  Rhode Island and Providence Plantantions

The hyoid bone is the only bone in the human body not connected to another bone - it is located roughly in the neck and connected by ligaments

The little bump on the front side of your ear is called a tragus

Mustard’s name is a contraction of the Latin mustum ardens, meaning “burning wine”

The launching mechanism of a carrier ship that helps planes to take off, could throw a pickup truck over a mile

Telephone cards were first popularized in Hawaii, since long-distance charges from the far-flung state were higher there than anywhere else in the US - since then, cell phones have nearly replaced the market for phone cards and are predicted to do so entirely within just 1-2 more years

The word “tycoon” is based on “taikun,” a title used by Japanese Shoguns

A naked, 47-year-old man was taken to an El Paso, Texas, burn center in July after "friends" won a bet and got to set his prosthetic leg on fire, and it spread to his body. The man admitted to police that he had lost fair-and-square, by downing "only" six beers. He was treated for several days and released

Britain's head constable told a police chiefs' meeting in June that they were being "buried" under a "telephone directory"-sized (6,497 pages) compilation of rules and regulations telling street police in massive detail such things as how to apply handcuffs and ride bicycles

Harry Jackson, 26, was in jail in Woodbine, Georgia, in March 2010, on several minor charges such as driving on a suspended license. However, acceding to pressure from fellow inmates, brought on by the jail's non-smoking policy, Jackson agreed to break out, steal cigarettes at a nearby convenience store, and break back in, undetected. "Don't come back empty-handed," one inmate supposedly warned him. Jackson was apprehended climbing back in over a fence. In May, a judge sentenced him, for the earlier charges plus the escape and subsequent burglary, to 20 years

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