Monday, May 23, 2011


Women's trousers usually had side fastenings, as front zippers for women were considered "naughty"

Baby food sales are booming in Japan. A sardine dish is Gerber's top seller in Japan, even though the company doesn't sell a single fish-based product in the U.S. 

Mozart once composed a piano piece that required a player to use two hands, both feet, and their nose in order to hit all the correct notes

When the female embryo is only six weeks old, it makes preparations for her potential motherhood by developing egg cells for future offspring. (When the baby girl is born, each of her ovaries carries about a million egg cells, all she will ever have) 

English was not the mother tongue of Queen Victoria. Her mother, the daughter of a German duke, spoke German in the home, and Victoria – though she ruled England for 64 years – was never able to speak English fluently

Cabbage is 91 percent water

The British slang for what is known as a "white-collar worker" in the US is "black-coat worker" - both terms refer to someone who works in an office.  In the US, a "blue-collar worker" refers to someone who works with their hands, and is derived from the common color of shirts worn by mechanics, constructions workers, and others

In the US, about 15,000 are in comas

The Bactrian camel is the only land mammal on Earth that can survive on salt water

The telescope on Mount Palomar, California, can see a distance of 7,038,835,200,000,000,000,000 miles  (Pictured below is the open dome of the housing of the telescope on a clear, starry night)

A female pharaoh was unknown in Egypt before Hatshepsut, who began her reign in 1502 B.C. In order not to shock convention, she had herself portrayed in male costume, with a beard, and without breasts

A study of New York marathoners found that their divorce rate – male and female – was twice the national average 

The computer programming language BASIC is an acronym of "Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code"

Belgian driver Jenatzy was the first to reach a speed of over 100 km/h in his electrically powered car "La Jamais Contente" on 29 April 1899  (Pictured below is part of the celebration that took place following the record-setting with Jenatzy wearing his driving cap and leather jacket)

Roulette was invented by the great French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal. It was a by product of his experiments with perpetual motion

The dark spots on the moon that create the benevolent "man in the moon" image are actually basins filled 3 to 8 kilometers deep with basalt, a dense mineral, which causes immense gravitation variations

Playtex International made U.S. history in May 1987 when US television networks began airing its commercials showing women wearing bras. Prior to this, torso mannequins were usually used, or female models could don brassieres provided the undergarments were worn on top of the models' clothing  

The General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) announced in December that it issued 350,000 "fatwas" in 2010--not the "death to" fatwas but rather Quranic interpretations governing everyday life. (The Authority ruled last year, for example, that car raffles are bad; that vuvuzelas
are acceptable if kept under 100 decibels; that afternoon naps are prohibited because time should be better spent; and that half-sisters may shake hands with their brothers, even if their mother is Christian.)

Georgia Tech scientists tested (for an October publication) the "oscillatory shaking" they witnessed by wet mice and various-sized wet dogs as they shook water off--finding an inverse ratio between size and speed, from 27 cycles per second by a mouse to 5.8 by a mid-sized dog. Their original hypothesis was that speed would decrease according to "torso radius," but they forgot to factor in the length of the animals' fur

Israeli researchers, writing in the journal Fertility and Sterility, found that women undergoing in-vitro
fertilization were almost twice as likely to conceive if they had been made to laugh by a hospital "clown" entertaining them as soon as their embryos were implanted  

A 2010 Chicago Tribune public-records examination of suburban Chicago traffic-stop drug searches found that sniffer dogs are usually wrong--that 56% of all "positive" signals by dogs yielded no contraband (73% failure if the driver was Hispanic) 

"Ashley," attacked at age 15 by a counselor in a New York City lockup, finally received justice in September when the counselor pleaded guilty to that assault and two others. (Ashley had been in the lockup for lying on a police report and served one year in juvenile detention.) The counselor's guilty pleas came in a deal with the prosecutor, for which he was "punished" by a probation-only sentence, according to an October New York Daily News story. Thus, Ashley was locked up after the rape; the rapist remains free    


Monday, May 16, 2011


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 famous Russian composer Aleksandr Borodin (1833-1897) was also a respected chemistry professor in St. Petersburg 

A bird "chews" with its stomach. Since most birds do not have teeth, a bird routinely swallows small pebbles and gravel. These grits become vigorously agitated in the bird's stomach and serve to grind food as it passes through the digestive system

1,792 steps lead to the top of the Eiffel Tower

To a competitive swimmer, "d.p.s." means distance per stroke

Oscar Wilde, Irish writer and poet born in 1854, served two years at hard labor after being found guilty of homosexuality, specifically "gross indecency with other men," at the height of his success - he found his popularity greatly diminished after the trial and prison sentence, and eventually died in November 1900 penniless in Paris at the age of 46

The Procrastinators Club of America sends news to its members under the masthead "Last Month's Newsletter"

The name of the legendary Lady Godiva's horse was Aethenoth

Most lipsticks contain fish scales

The common male housefly completes its entire life cycle in 17 days

Tuberculosis is one of the world's oldest diseases. Some ancient mummies found in Egypt and Peru had tuberculosis

At birth, baby kangaroos are only about an inch long — no bigger than a large waterbug or a queen bee

Salt Lake City, Utah, gets an average of 17 inches more snow annually than Fairbanks, Alaska. Santa Fe, New Mexico, gets an average of 9 inches more snow each year than New Haven, Connecticut

The kakapo is a nocturnal burrowing parrot of New Zealand that has a green body with brown and yellow markings - Its name is from Maori and means "night parrot"

Bananas are the most popular fruit in America. The average person eats 33 pounds of bananas a year. Over 4 million tons of bananas are imported into the United States every year

Cockroaches have lived on the Earth for 250 million years. Many varieties, found today, look identical to the fossilized record of their ancestors  (Pictured below is a fossilized cockroach found in North America)

Inventor Gail Borden, Jr. invented condensed milk in the 1850s 

About 25% of American adults say they have participated, at some time or another, in illegal gambling  

The only crime defined in the U.S. Constitution is treason — Article III, Section 3 

A "fulgerite" is fossilized lightning. It forms when a powerful lightning bolt melts the soil into a glass-like state  (Pictured below is a piece of fossilized lightning- a fulgerite- found in the northeastern US after lightning struck a beach area in 1990)

A winkle is an edible sea snail

Ann Franklin was the first woman to hold the title of "newspaper editor" (at The Newport Mercury in Newport, Rhode Island) in 1762 

A supposedly centuries-old Korean health treatment--the vaginal steam bath--has become a popular fad recently in southern California, according to a December Los Angeles Times report. As the client squats on an open-seated stool, vapors of herbs such as wormwood supposedly fight stress, infections, hemorrhoids, infertility, and irregular menstrual periods. Thirty minutes' treatment runs $20 to $50, and according to a prominent Beverly Hills gynecologist, the procedure actually could be beneficial 

China's dynamic economy has created Western-style insecurities, including young women's anxieties about beauty and self- improvement as they search for employment. Consequently, China has become the world's third largest consumer of plastic surgery services--with demand that perhaps challenges the supply of skilled surgeons. Women typically want wider eyes, "sliced" eyelids, narrower noses and jaws, and smaller chins, and both men and women seek height by attempting the painful (and usually unsuccessful) "heel implant" procedure. (A currently popular, less invasive remedy for immediate body streamlining--as when preparing for a job interview--involves ingesting eggs of the ringworm, so that the "worm" devours food before the stomach can digest it)   

Every December 24th in Sweden, at 3 p.m., a third to a half of all Swedes sit down to watch the same traditional television program that has marked Christmas for the last 50 years: a lineup of historic Donald Duck cartoons. According to a December report on, the show is insinuated in the national psyche because it was the first big holiday program when Swedes began to acquire television sets in 1959. Entire families still watch together, repeating their favorite lines 

From a December 2010 memo to paramedics in Edmonton, Alberta, by Alberta Health Services: Drivers should "respond within the posted speed limits even when responding with lights and siren." "Our job is to save lives," AHS wrote, "not put them in jeopardy." According to drivers interviewed by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation News, police have been issuing tickets to drivers on emergencies if they speed or go through red lights 

Monday, May 9, 2011


In Europe, the act of crossing one's fingers has several meanings, most commonly "protection" or "good luck." In Paraguay, the gesture is offensive

Lightning kills more people in the US than any other natural disaster: an average of 400 dead and 1,000 injured yearly - Globally, residents of Cuba have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than any other country in the world

The Roman Emperor Nero married his male slave Scorus in a public ceremony - the marriage occurred after Nero had his second wife murdered and the slave, who resembled his first wife, castrated

Water has a greater molecular density in liquid form than as a solid - this is why ice floats 

A “fruit machine” is the British term for a slot machine, often called a “one-armed bandit” in the US

It may take longer than two days for a chick to break out of its shell 

In 1935, the police in Atlantic City, New Jersey, arrested 42 men on the beach. They were cracking down on topless bathing suits worn by men  (Pictured below is an advertisement for a popular men's one-piece swimsuit, called the "Y-Back," circa 1936)
The oldest individual to win a medal in the Olympics was Oscar Swahn. He won a silver medal in shooting for Sweden in 1920. He was 72 years old  

Every day, 8.5 million tons of water evaporates from the Dead Sea, on the border between Israel and Jordan

The first minimum wage in the United States, of twenty-five cents, was established by Congress in 1938 

To survive, most birds must eat at least half their own weight in food each day

The DeKrote Garbage Museum in New Jersey, one of the only museum's devoted to human waste, invites visitors to "walk through a bright cavern formed by a jumble of trash hanging from the walls and ceiling." Some critics have observed that the garbage on display at the museum gives off no characteristic odor, which is unlike the average solid waste landfill   

Tea was not introduced into the U.S. colonies until 1714

BAND-AID Brand Adhesive Bandages first appeared on the market in 1921. However, the little red string that is used to open the package was not added until 1940  (Pictured below is an original tin for adhesive Band-Aids by the Johnson & Johnson Company, circa 1925)

In music, a hemidemisemiquaver is a sixty-fourth note

In 1952, CBS made computer history by being the first to use a computer, the UNIVAC I, to forecast the U.S. presidential election (Pictured below famed American news broadcaster Walter Cronkite, a UNIVAC I operator, and a network executive look over printouts of polling station results from around the country)
A local ordinance in Atwoodville, Connecticut prohibits people from playing Scrabble while waiting for a politician to speak

Between ages 30 and 70, a nose may lengthen and widen by as much as half an inch and the ears may be a quarter-inch longer - due to the fact that cartilage is one of the few tissues that continue to grow as we age

Automaker BMW of Germany announced testing in December of a new technology ("flash projection") in which an ultra-bright light sears the company logo into a viewer's vision, where it lingers even if the viewer subsequently closes their eyelids tightly 

Because two different laws operate, New York state prisoners, when they win lawsuits against guards who have injured them, keep the entire amount of the award, but when New York state mental patients win similar lawsuits, the hospitals can claim a large portion of the money back, as repayment for the daily cost of providing "care." The New York Times reported in December 2010 that the dual system is unique to the state 

A 26-year-old man was arrested in San Pablo, California, in December 2010 and accused of stealing a taxi after tricking the driver into momentarily exiting the cab. The man then drove to a Department of Motor Vehicles office, where he attempted to register ownership of the car

In January, Saudi officials detained a vulture from Tel Aviv University (part of endangered-species research), calling it a spy and alarming its Israeli handlers that the bird might face a gruesome execution as an espionage
agent. Then, a day later, Iran reportedly detained an Arab-American woman crossing its border from Armenia--after discovering a "spy microphone" in her teeth. (A week later, she was allowed to travel to Turkey.) In December, after an Egyptian woman was killed by a shark at a Red Sea resort, the local governor in Egypt accused Israel's spy agency, Mossad, of releasing "attack sharks" in order to stifle tourism 

Vietnam veteran Ronald Flanagan, in the midst of expensive treatment for bone cancer, had his medical insurance canceled in January because his wife mistakenly keyed in a "7" instead of a "9" in the "cents" space while paying the couple's regular premium online, leaving the Flanagans two cents short. Said the administrator, Ceridian COBRA Services, that remittance "fit into the definition in the regulations of 'insufficient payment'" and allows termination. (Ceridian said it warned the Flanagans before cancellation, but Ron Flanagan said the "warning" was just an ordinary billing statement that did not draw his attention.) 

Monday, May 2, 2011


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

Finland has the greatest number of islands in the world: 179,584

There were 15,700,003 Model T Ford's manufactured, all in black

London's Millennium Dome, the largest of its kind in the world and referred to simply as The Dome, is the original name of a large dome-shaped building, originally used to house the Millennium Experience, a major exhibition celebrating the beginning of the third millennium. Located on the Greenwich Peninsula in South East London, England, the exhibition opened to the public on 1 January 2000 and ran until 31 December 2000. The project and exhibition was the subject of considerable political controversy as it failed to attract the number of visitors anticipated, leading to recurring financial problems. While all of the original exhibition and associated complex has since been demolished, the canopy or shell of the dome still exists - The Prime Meridian passes the western edge of the Dome 

The substance that human blood resembles most closely in terms of chemical composition is sea water  

Fingernail polish often contains four or five chemicals the Environmental Protection Agency calls potentially harmful. If a person bought fingernail polish in a 55-gallon drum, the empty drum could not be legally thrown into a landfill. It would have to be transported to the nearest state-regulated commercial hazardous-waste disposal facility. As many as 350,000 nail-polish bottles find their way into the average U.S. municipal waste landfill every year

According to the Beer Institute in Washington, D.C., a combination of federal, state and local taxes accounts for almost 43% of the cost of every bottle of beer sold in the United States - Oregon alone proudly announced in 2008 that the brewing and sale of beer there accounted for over $2 billion in revenue for the state
The Japanese cremate 93% of their dead, as compared to Great Britain at 67% and the United States at just over 12%

A standard 747 Jumbo Jet has 420 seats

Although the United States has just 5% of the world's population, it has most of the world's lawyers at 70% - The U.S. has more than one million lawyers 

Camels instinctively know their own endurance and will refuse to move beyond it. If their masters try to drive them farther, they will lie down and refuse to budge

Located about 45 miles south of San Francisco, San José was the first nonreligious community founded in California. Pueblo de San José de Guadalupe was settled in 1777 by enterprising farmers who wanted to make themselves and the bountiful region independent of Mexico and the network of Spanish missions for their supplies. Fruit and olive trees, livestock, grain, hides, and tallow all contributed to San José’s early prosperity. It was California's first capital from 1849-1852  

Some Chinese typewriters have 5,700 characters. The keyboard is almost 3 feet wide on some models, and the fastest one can type on these machines is 11 words per minute  (Pictured below is a Chinese typewriter in Munich university's institute for sinology. The shown model was shipped from China to Germany in the late 1990s. The characters can be assorted on the board and can be picked separately and then typed)   

Ferdinand Porsche, who later went on to build sports cars bearing his own name, designed the original 1936 Volkswagen 

The Sears Tower is Chicago's tallest structure, towering at 1,454 feet. About 10,000 people go to work there Monday through Friday. The building has its own U.S. Post Official and ZIP code: 60606

Pain from any injury or illness is always registered by the brain. Yet, the brain tissue itself is immune to pain; it contains none of the specialized receptor cells that sense pain in other parts of the body. The pain associated with brain tumors does not arise from brain cells but from the pressure created by a growing tumor or tissues outside the brain

The reproductive cycle of some worms is in phase with the moon. The sex organs of adult pallolo worms mature once a year at about the same time of day, on a day when the moon is in its last quarter

Names for groups of animals… a bale of turtles, a clowder of cats, a charm of goldfinches, a gam of whales, a knot of toads, a streak of tigers 

New Year's Day is the world's most shared observed holiday. In most English-speaking countries, it has been observed on January 1 since the British Calendar Act was passed in 1751. There was a time when people wished others a "Happy New Year" on March 25, approximately the date of spring's onset
A now-10-year-old church in Denver, Colo., ministers to (as contemplated by 1 Corinthians 4:11-13) the homeless, the reviled, and the persecuted and formally named itself after the actual words in verse 13, the "Scum of the Earth" Church. The congregation touts non-judgmental Christianity; owns an elegant, aging building (but hold services elsewhere because of fire code violations); and is a rough mix of anarchists, punk rockers, environmentalists, and disaffected teens perhaps mainly keen on angering their parents.  "Scum" (as church members matter-of-factly call themselves) tilt mildly philosophically conservative (though not nearly evangelical), connected only by the common belief that "God is love," according to a December 2010 report in Denver's Westword 
A holiday dinner with members of the Scum of the Earth Church in Denver, Colorado, USA
Among the major league baseball players (average salary: about $3.3 million) who spent time on the disabled list in 2010: Kendry Morales (Angels), who broke his leg jumping on home plate after hitting a home run; Brian Roberts (Orioles), who was out a week with a concussion when he smacked himself in the head with his bat after striking out; Chris Coghlan (Marlins), who needed knee surgery after giving a teammate a playful post-game shaving-cream pie; and Geoff Blum (Astros), who needed elbow surgery after straining his arm putting on his shirt

British researchers, writing in the journal Evolution in November, described a species of birds in Africa's Kalahari Desert that appear to acquire food by running a "protection racket" for other birds. The biologists hypothesize that because drongo birds hang out at certain nests and squawk loudly when predators approach, the nest's residents grow more confident about security and thus can roam further away when they search for food--but with the hunters gone, the drongos scoop up any food left behind. (The researchers also found that drongos are not above staging false alarms to trick birds into leaving their food unguarded.) 

It was a prestigious hospital on a worthy mission (to recruit hard-to-match bone marrow donors to beef up a dwindling list), but UMass Memorial Medical Center (Worcester, Massachusetts) went hardcore: hiring young female models in short skirts to flirt with men at New Hampshire shopping centers to entice them to give DNA swabs for possible matches. Complaints piled up because state law requires insurance providers to cover the tests, at $4,000 for each swab submitted by the love-struck flirtees, and the hospital recently dropped the program, according to a December New York Times report 

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