Monday, February 28, 2011


In ancient Greece, courtesans wore sandals with nails studded into the sole so that their footprints would leave the message "Follow me"

The largest cell in the human body is the female ovum, or egg cell. It is about 1/180 inch in diameter. The smallest cell in the human body is the male sperm. It takes about 175,000 sperm cells to weigh as much as a single egg cell

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

When the full-length, poetic name of Bangkok, capital of Thailand, is used it is usually abbreviated to "Krung Thep"(City of Angels). The full-length version is the longest place name of any town or city in the world (167 letters): Krung Thep Mahanakhon Bovorn Ratanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Pop Noparatratchathani Burirom Udomratchanivetma Hasathan Amornpiman Avatarnsa Thit Sakkathattiyavisnukarmprasit (Pictured below: Bangkok at night)
In the latter part of the 18th century, Prussian surgeons treated stutterers by snipping off portions of their tongue

The opposite of a "vacuum" is a "plenum"

The Sun produces more energy every minute than all the energy used on Earth in a whole year

Assuming that all the offspring survived, 190,000,000,000,000,000,000 flies could be produced in four months by the offspring of a single pair of flies

Goldfish lose their color if they are kept in a dim light or they are placed in a body of running water, such as a stream. They remain gold when kept in a pond or in a bowl with adequate illumination  (Pictured below is a goldfish that had been kept out of light, and turned white)

At birth, the white whale (beluga) is dark gray or black

A young woman named Ellen Church convinced Boeing Air Transport that her nursing skills and love of flying would qualify her to assist with the passengers and emergencies. She became the first known "stewardess" which are now known as Flight Attendants

A King Cobra is the biggest of all poisonous snakes and can grow to over 13 feet long. A bite from a King Cobra can kill an elephant in 4 hours

An estimated $1 million is lost at race tracks each year by people who lose or carelessly throw away winning tickets, according to a 2003 study

Colonel Waring, New York City Street Cleaning Commissioner, was responsible for organizing the first rubbish-sorting plant for recycling in the United States in 1898

Popcorn was banned at most movie theaters in the 1920s because it was considered too noisy

A car uses 1.6 ounces of gas idling for one minute. Half an ounce is used to start the average automobile

The "rag" in the world of fruit is the white fibrous membrane inside the skin and around the sections of the citrus fruit

Kangaroo rats never drink water. Like their relatives the pocket mice, they carry their own water source within them, producing fluids from the food they eat and the air they breathe

It takes about 50 hours for a snake to digest one frog

There is about one quarter-pound of salt in every gallon of seawater

Tuna swim at a steady rate of 9 miles per hour for an indefinite period of time — and they never stop moving. Estimates indicate that a 15-year-old tuna travels one million miles in its lifetime

February is the mating month for gray whales

Frances Perkins was the first woman appointed to hold a U.S. Cabinet post as Secretary of Labor. She was appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and held the post from 1933-1945

Chocolate was once considered a temptation of the devil. In Central American mountain villages during the 18th century, no one under the age of 60 was permitted to drink it, and churchgoers who defied the rule were threatened with excommunication

Bricks are the oldest manufactured building material still in use - Egyptians used them 7,000 years ago 

According to one study, nuns have an average life expectancy of 79 years, the longest of any group in the United States 

Jamie Riley, 27, was arrested in 2010 November for endangering her 3-month-old son by holding him "like a football," according to police, who had spotted Riley carrying on raucously while "celebrating" her recent "victory" over the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, which had been investigating her for neglect 

In 2010 September, a tractor-trailer crashed on Interstate 70 near Terre Haute, Indianna and precipitated a traffic jam when the cargo caught fire. The truck was hauling a load of fire extinguishers 

An official release of San Francisco's Department of the Environment in July apparently cleared up a matter of controversy (according to a report in SF Weekly): Human semen is one organic waste product not required to be disposed of in special "compost" bags under the city's mandatory composting law. (However, "snot" must be properly bagged)

In December 2010, Ricardo West, a professional Michael Jackson impersonator (who staged "Michael Lives! The Michael Jackson Tribute Concert") was charged in August in Allen Park, Michigan with 12 counts of child molestation 

Monday, February 21, 2011


In Air Force slang, a "laundry bag" is a parachute

In 1860, the first food and drug act became law in Great Britain

As the official taste tester for Edy's Grand Ice Cream, John Harrison had his taste buds (tasting ability of his tongue) insured for one million dollars (USD)

Gophers are hermits

Orca whales are voluntary breathers. For this reason, they sleep with only half of their brain at one time. The other half remains alert to regulate breathing. Resident whales typically remain near the surface, breathing and swimming in a pattern. When traveling together, resident pods have been observed to breathe in unison. Although it is not known why this occurs, it could be a way of helping the pod keep tabs on one another

On the Baja coast, osprey couples return to the same nests year after year. These birds rebuild their old nest, carefully repairing any damage caused by winds, rain, and age. After years of rebuilding, some osprey nests can reach heights of 4 feet

One notable medieval English Christmas celebration featured a giant, 165-pound pie. The giant pie was nine feet in diameter. Its ingredients included 2 bushels of flour, 20 pounds of butter, 4 geese, 2 rabbits, 4 wild ducks, 2 woodcocks, 6 snipes, 4 partridges, 2 neats' tongues, 2 curlews, 6 pigeons, and 7 blackbirds

Fish can be susceptible to seasickness

A plaice, a large European flounder, can lie on a checkerboard and reproduce on its upper surface the same pattern of squares, for camouflage    
A mole can dig a tunnel 300 feet long in one night

The average pollen particle is less than the width of a human hair. Pollens can remain on your skin and hair for hours after spending time outdoors. Pollens can travel as far as 400 miles and up to two miles high in the air

An angstrom is a unit of length equal to one ten-millionth of a millimeter, primarily used to express electromagnetic wavelengths. It was named after Swedish astronomer and physicist Anders Jonas Ångström (1814-1874)

McDonald's restaurants in Holland serve a Mac Kroket, a sandwich made with a "kroket," which is a Dutch snack    

In the kingdom of Bhutan, all citizens officially become a year older on New Year's Day

Rome has more homeless cats per square mile than any other city in the world

Poet/writer Edgar Allan Poe was expelled from West Point the United States Military Academy, because he showed up for a parade naked

The word "sake," Japanese wine made from fermented rice, is shortened from the word sake-mizu, which translates to "prosperous waters"

One bushel of corn will sweeten more than 400 cans of soda. A single bushel of corn can produce: 32 pounds of cornstarch, 1.6 pounds of corn oil, 11.4 pounds of 21% protein gluten feed or 3 pounds of 60% gluten meal

Until 1266, the Isle of Man was owned by Norway and was a separate country with its own King who also owned the Sodor, the southern isles of Scotland. Edward III was the Isle of Man's first English king, but in 1405, Henry IV gave it to the Stanley family and it later passed to the Dukes of Atholl. It was not until 1765 that it was sold to the British Government for 70,000 pounds

Pocahontas and her husband John Rolfe had one son named Thomas who was born and educated in England, but settled in Virginia - Pocahontas had married Rolfe while still in captivity, but made no attempt to leave him once she gained her freedom  (Pictured below is a sign marking the kidnapping of Pocahontas as an American landmark)

Murderer John Horwood was hanged on April 13, 1821. His skin was used to bind a book describing the dissection of his body by surgeon Richard Smith

A car that shifts manually gets 2 miles more per gallon of gas, on average, than a car with automatic shift 

The Pima Indians of Gila River Reservation, south of Phoenix, Arizona, have the highest rate of diabetes in the world

An elephant may consume 500 pounds of hay and 60 gallons of water in a single day

Former Groveland, Massachusetts, police officer Aaron Yeo, who was fired in 2009 for sleeping on the job and lying to dispatchers about his locations, challenged the termination in October 2010, claiming through his lawyer that he had declined to reveal his locations only because he was "watching for terrorists." 

In recent years frisky Britons have popularized "dogging"-- strangers meeting for outdoor sex in remote public parks--and UK government agencies appear to be of two minds about it. Local councils want to see it stopped, but the police chiefs' association in Scotland recognizes that doggers have rights. (The Surrey County
Council, for example, recently considered bringing wild bulls into one park to discourage doggers, although one critic said romping bulls "will probably make [doggers] even more excited." The chiefs' association issued a 60-page "hate crimes" manual in October that urged officers to be sensitive to "outdoor sex" practitioners, in that they are vulnerable to hate crimes just as are other disadvantaged minorities.)  

Police in Gumperda, Germany, arrested a 64-year-old retired do-it-yourselfer in November after he drilled through a neighbor's wall in their duplex home. The man had spent two days trapped in his own basement, where he had laid bricks and mortar for a room but apparently forgot to leave himself an exit           

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


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

Mexico banned imported films that depicted Mexicans as villains in 1926. The ban was ignored by Hollywood, but the effect on exports south of the border was sufficiently serious for the Hays Office to order no more Mexican heavies in 1930. Film censors let it be understood that it would be quite acceptable for the stock foreign undesirable to be portrayed as Russian, in retaliation for Soviet restrictions on Hollywood imports

The world's first television weather chart was broadcast in Britain on November 11, 1936

Enough energy is released in ten minutes of one hurricane to match the nuclear stockpiles of the world 

During menstruation, the sensitivity of a woman's middle finger is reduced

When written in Roman numerals, the year 1666 is the only date in history that is written from the highest to the lowest value, MDCLXVI (1000 + 500 + 100 + 50 + 10 + 5 + 1)

More than half a billion yo-yos have been sold in just the United States since Donald F. Duncan introduced the toy in 1930 (Pictured below are vintage yo-yos from 1935 through 1945) 

Lightning strikes the Earth 1,800 times at any moment

The planet Jupiter is named after the supreme god of the Romans. He was the god of the sky, the bringer of light, hurling lightning bolts down on the world when displeased

Melting ice absorbs almost as much energy in changing to liquid water as is needed to heat the water from freezing to boiling

Very unusual for carnivores, hyena clans are dominated by females

Monkeys will not eat red meat or butter

A dragonfly flaps its wings 20 to 40 times a second, bees and houseflies 200 times, some mosquitoes 600 times, and a tiny gnat 1,000 times

On the Chinese written language, the ideograph that stands for "trouble" represents two women under one roof

When a piece of glass cracks, the crack travels faster than 3,000 miles per hour

The oldest piano still in existence was built in 1720

The word "gazelle" comes from the Arabian term for "affectionate," and it is believed to be inspired by the creature's large, gentle eyes

It seems to biologists that, unlike their humpback whale relatives whose underwater song evolves from year to year, killer whales retain individual dialects unchanged over long periods, possibly even for life

Each square inch of human skin consists of 19 million cells, 60 hairs, 90 oil glands, 19 feet of blood vessels, 625 sweat glands, and 19,000 sensory cells

Henri Nestlé was originally a baby food manufacturer. His work and research with condensed milk aided Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter in inventing a method to successfully combine chocolate and milk in a solid form — the first milk chocolate — in 1875

The United States Congress passed a law prohibiting American vessels from supplying slaves to other countries on March 22, 1794  
One of New York City's (midtown Manhattan's) favorite meet-up spots, according to an October report in the New York Times, is Colombian artist Fernando Botero's 12-foot-tall "Adam" statue at Time Warner Center. However, since Adam is nude and the statue is so pedestrian-friendly, maintaining it has become a problem, according to the center's general manager. As the Times described it, "Most of Adam is deep dark brown," but the easily-accessible penis "is worn golden from extensive handling." (The Times also noted that "[a]t the Botero" is a less-popular meet-up suggestion than "[u]nderneath the penis.") 

Sheriff's deputies in Manatee County, Florida, arrested two men in 2010 October after a traffic stop when, following a thorough search of the car's trunk, they found marijuana. In fact, the search of the messy trunk was so thorough that they also turned up a bong, which driver Mark Fiasco said he had lost and been looking for for seven years 

Britain's National Health Service acknowledged in November 2010 that, because of a shortage of healthy lungs and other organs available for transplant, it was offering those on waiting lists the option of receiving them from former smokers, drug addicts, cancer patients, and the elderly. "You have to say," said an official with the NHS's Blood and Transplant unit, "do you get a lung with more risk, or do you get no lung [at all]?"         

Monday, February 14, 2011


The discovery of Neptune was announced in 1846. But when astronomers checked previous records, they found the record of an observation of the planet as far back as 1795 by astronomers who, believing it to be a star, recorded the position routinely

Whale watching in South Africa has become part of the South African experience for tourists. The Cape Whale Route stretches from Doringbaai on the West Coast to the Tsitsikamma National Park on the East Coast and incorporates many varied whale viewing points. About thirty-seven species of whales and dolphins typically visit South Africa. The southern right whale is seen the most frequently

The bite of a leech is painless due to its own anaesthetic

According to Professor David Saunders of the Psychology Department of the University of Chicago, abnormally large numbers of UFO sightings occur every 61 months, usually at distances from 1,500 to 2,000 miles apart

The branch of entomology dealing with ants is called "myrmecology"

The owl parrot can't fly, and builds its nest under tree roots 

Until the Middle Ages, passports were given only to the privileged well-to-do. In 1215, the Magna Carta established that "All merchants are to be safe and secure in leaving and entering England." One of the earliest U.S. passports on record was issued in France in 1778. It was signed by Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams

The first outdoor miniature golf courses in the United States were built on rooftops in New York City in 1926

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 (Pictured below is a female angler that has absorbed a male with a few of the male's fins remaining as part of her body)

All porcupines float in water

The first baseball game to be televised was not in the United States but was in Tokyo, Japan 

Architect James Horan was awarded $500 and a parcel of land in Washington, D.C. for his 1792 winning design for the President's House, now known as the White House (Pictured below is a cabin of slaves who were set up in camps alongside the grounds to build the President's home)

In ancient Greece, where the mouse was sacred to Apollo, mice were sometimes devoured by temple priests

Seals can withstand water pressure of up to 850 pounds per square inch

Roughly 40 percent of the population of the under-developed world is under 15 years old 
France had the first supermarket in the world. It was started by relatives of the people who started the Texas Big Bear supermarket chain

Israel is one-quarter the size of the state of Maine

In the winter of 1724, while on an outing at sea, Peter the Great of Russia caught sight of a foundering ship, jumped in the water, and helped in the rescue. He caught cold, suffered from high fever, and died several weeks later

Obese patients with an array of symptoms known as "prediabetes" have seen their insulin sensitivity improved dramatically via "fecal transplants," i.e., receiving the stool of a thin, healthy person into the bowel, according to researchers led by a University of North Carolina professor. Researchers said the strangers' implants were significantly more effective than those of a control group, in which a person's own feces was implanted 

In research results announced in 2010 June, a team led by a University of Oklahoma professor, studying Mexican molly fish, discovered that females evaluate potential mates on sight, based on the prominence of the moustache-like growths on males' upper lips.  More controversially, the researchers hypothesized that males further enhance their mating prowess by employing the "moustache" to tickle females' genitals. (Catfish have similar "whiskers" and perhaps use them for similar purposes, said the researcher)

In September, Russia's finance minister publicly urged citizens to step up their smoking and drinking, in that the government's new "sin" taxes mean more revenue: "If you smoke a pack of cigarettes," he said, "that means you are giving more to help solve social problems." (Alcohol abuse is already said to kill 500,000 Russians a year and to significantly lower life expectancy)

A 45-year-old, out-of-town man was killed in a street robbery in Oakland, California, in July after he became distracted while typing a location into his cell phone's map program to find his way to a job interview. The appointment was at Google, Inc. 

In 2010 October, Freddie Mac (the government-sponsored but privately-owned home mortgage financier, whose massive debts have been assumed in a federal "bailout" administered by the Treasury Department) filed a claim in Tax Court against the Internal Revenue Service, denying IRS's claim that it owes $3 billion in back taxes from 1998-2005. Should taxpayers care? If Freddie Mac wins, IRS (which is also housed in the Treasury Department) loses out on the $3 billion in alleged back taxes. If IRS wins, it gets its $3 billion, which will undoubtedly be paid with taxpayer bailout money 

After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in 2005, Congress underwrote $7.9 billion in tax-free bonds that Louisiana could sell in order to rehabilitate the area. According to an August status report in Newsweek, $5.9 billion in bonds have been sold by the state, but only $55 million of that (one percent) is for projects inside New Orleans (and none in the devastated Lower Ninth Ward). By contrast, $1.7 billion (about 29 percent) is going to projects that benefit the state's oil industry     

Monday, February 7, 2011


Louis XIV owned 413 beds

While some sharks lay eggs, blue sharks give birth to live pups, as do about two-thirds of all sharks, estimated at nearly 350 species

The streets of London were lit by gaslights for the first time in 1807. Before that, torches were used 

Miami, Florida, is the most southerly major city in the continental United States, sitting about two degrees north of the Tropic of Cancer

The world's largest silver nugget, weighing 1,840 pounds, was found in 1894 near Aspen, Colorado

Ludwig van Beethoven was totally deaf when he composed his Ninth Symphony

Cosmetics queen Helena Rubenstein provided the money to help artist Marc Chagall and his wife flee the Nazis and move to New York City in 1941

Although Asia and the Mediterranean are the original regions where mustard grew, most of the world's mustard today is cultivated in Canada and the United States

There are approximately 250,000 sweat glands in human feet and they sweat as much as 8 ounces of moisture per day for the average person

In a recent 5-year period, 24 residents of Tokyo died smacking their skulls while bowing to other people 

Per capita, Canada has more doughnut shops than any other country

A camel with one hump is a Dromedary, while a camel with two humps is a Bactrian

During the July 13-14, 1977 blackout in New York City, a record 80 million telephone calls were made (Pictured below police beat looters with "nightsticks"; a now-famous headline read: "The Bronx is Burning")

A fly can react to something it sees and change direction in 30 milliseconds

The act of a husband murdering his wife is called "uxoricide" - most women murdered in the US are killed by a husband or male lover, acquaintance, or date - the US has the highest rate of uxoricide than any other developed nation

Papua, New Guinea includes the islands of New Britain and New Ireland

A recent U.S. study purports that there are fewer births 9 months after a heat wave. The study found that an increase of 12 degrees Celsius (approximately 21.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in summer temperatures reduces births the following spring by up to 6 percent. Researchers at Kinsey Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University concluded that high temperatures could reduce people's sense of well-being, which could result in a reduction in sexual interest. Another study found lower sperm counts and higher rates of miscarriage during hot weather

The spiny cheek, starsnout poacher, and monkeyface prickleback are all names of fish (Pictured below is a monkeyface pickleback fish peeking from a small underwater cave)

False teeth are often radioactive. Approximately 1 million Americans wear some form of denture; half of these dentures are made of a porcelain compound laced with minute amounts of uranium to stimulate fluorescence. Without the uranium additive, the dentures would be a dull green color when seen under artificial light

In all, the Navajo population in the U.S. is about 250,000, the largest tribe in the nation. The Navajo Reservation, including Monument Valley, covers 17.5 million acres in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. Navajos prefer to call themselves Dine (Di-NEH, or "the people")

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 

During the heating months of winter, the relative humidity of the average American home is only 13 percent, nearly twice as dry as the Sahara Desert

More than half of American baby boomers — 55 percent — say they express themselves through their work. That compares with 46 percent for members of Generation X — those born from 1965 through 1976 — and only 34 percent of people older than 50

Skydivers accelerate to a terminal velocity of 120 mph (193 km/h). Earth's gravity is balanced by density of the air at this velocity, so they fall at a constant rate

Before all-porcelain false teeth were perfected in the mid-19th century, dentures were commonly made with teeth pulled from the mouths of dead soldiers following a battle. Teeth extracted from U.S. Civil War soldier cadavers were shipped to England by the barrel to dentists   

Janis Ollson, 31, of Balmoral, Manitoba, is recovering nicely after being almost completely sawed on half in 2007 by Mayo Clinic surgeons, who concluded that they could remove her bone cancer no other way. In experimental surgery that had been tried only on cadavers, doctors split her pelvis in half, removed the left half, her left leg, and her lower spine (and the tumor) in a 20-hour, 12-specialist procedure. The real trick, though, was the eight-hour, 240-staple reconstruction in which her remaining leg was re-connected to her spine with pins and screws, leaving her in an arrangement doctors likened to a "pogo stick." A September 2010 Winnipeg Free Press story noted that, except for the missing leg, she is enjoying a normal life with her husband and two kids and enjoys snowmobiling     
Ollson shows off the prosthetic leg she uses when snowmobiling
David Henderson, a Korean War veteran long suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, applied 15 days past the deadline for enhanced care under a 2001 veterans- benefits law and thus was, as required by the statute, disqualified from the additional benefits. Henderson's doctor pointed out that major disorders such as Henderson's often leave victims unable to understand concepts like "deadlines." As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer asked, during argument on the case in December, did Congress (which wrote the statute) really intend to deprive Henderson of care because of the very disability for which he sought help? (A decision is expected in the spring)

Fredrik Hjelmqvist, 45, owner of an audio shop in Stockholm, demonstrated in November 2010 his system of
broadcasting music from his stomach. He swallowed a plastic capsule containing a battery-operated audio set-up, then connected an amplifier to a stethoscope and held it against his belly, and began playing recorded music, including the Village People's "YMCA," until the battery died three hours later. Hjelmqvist admitted that the audio quality was poor but still hopes to sell the system for the equivalent of about $17,000 

Gloria Clark, 62, was charged in the death of her 98-year-old mother in St. George, South Carolina, in December 2010 after the mother's body was found among squalid conditions at her home. Though Clark denied she had been neglectful, the mother's pet parrot might have disagreed. According to the police report, the parrot, in the mother's bedroom, continually squawked--mimicking "Help me! Help me!" followed by the sound of laughter          

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