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 

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