Monday, October 31, 2011


According to a 2011 survey, 1 in 8 people over age 40 admitted to pretending to be talking on a mobile phone in order to avoid a conversation with a person in their presence and/or who might approach them otherwise- among younger adults aged 18-34 that figure jumped to 1 in 3

The first telephone directory, consisting of a single page, was issued on February 21, 1878. It covered 50 subscribers in New Haven, Connecticut in the United States. The Reuben H. Donnelly company asserts that it published the first classified directory, or yellow pages, for Chicago, Illinois, in 1886.

The first British telephone directory was published on 15 January 1880 (the year after a public telephone service was introduced into the UK) by The Telephone Company. It contained 248 names and addresses of individuals and businesses in London; telephone numbers were not used at the time as subscribers were asked for by name at the exchange. The directory is preserved as part of the British phone book collection by BT Archives

The first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in WWII killed the only elephant in the Berlin Zoo

Tablecloths were originally meant to serve as towels with which guests could wipe their hands and faces after dinner

It is estimated that in excess of 3,000,000,000 Bibles have been sold throughout the world

In 1999, Pepsi, Inc. managed to have paid $0.00 in income tax - As of 2009, 19 of PepsiCo's product lines generated retail sales of more than $1 billion each, and the company’s products were distributed across more than 200 countries, resulting in annual net revenues of $43.3 billion. Based on net revenue, PepsiCo is the second largest food & beverage business in the world. Within North America, PepsiCo is ranked (by net revenue) as the largest food and beverage business
 PepsiCo’s product mix as of 2009 (based on worldwide net revenue) consists of 63 percent foods, and 37 percent beverages. On a worldwide basis, the company’s current products lines include several hundred brands that in 2009 were estimated to have generated approximately $108 billion in cumulative annual retail sales.  The primary identifier of companies' main brands within the food and beverage industry are those which generate annual sales exceeding $1 billion, and 19 of PepsiCo's brands met this description as of 2009: Pepsi-Cola, Mountain Dew, Lay's, Gatorade, Tropicana, 7Up, Doritos, Lipton Teas, Quaker Foods, Cheetos, Mirinda, Ruffles, Aquafina, Pepsi Max, Tostitos, Sierra Mist, Fritos, Aunt Jamima, Rold Gold Pretzels, and Walker's

In 1987 American Airlines saved $40,000 by eliminating one olive from its First Class salads

In 1976 an LA secretary named Jannene Swift officially married a 50 pound rock in a ceremony witnessed by more than 20 people

If a surgeon in Ancient Egypt lost a patient while performing an operation, his hands were cut off

Harry S Truman was the last U.S. President with no college degree  

Clocks made before 1660 had only one hand - an hour hand

Canada's new flag, with its maple leaf design, was unfurled in 1965 in Ottawa
Canadian flag prior to 1965
Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had only one testicle

Dogs and cats, like humans, are either right or left-dominant showing a preference, for example, in which paw is used for moving a toy or preening themselves

The earth rotates more slowly on its axis in March than in September 

Despite the images we have in our minds scientists aren't sure what color dinosaurs were and it is our imaginations that have attributed largely greens and browns to these creatures - Scientists depict greens and browns as dominant colors based on lizards and reptiles alive today

The weight of a carat (200 milligrams), standard unit of measurement for gemstones, is based on the weight of the carob seed

The average temperature at 40,000 feet above sea level is -60 F

In 1897, Bayer, who is the maker of Aspirin, marketed the drug heroin

In the US alone, on average, more than ten people annually are killed by vending machines, usually by titling them and then not being able to support the weight of the machine

Hippo milk is pink

The human brain has the capacity to store everything that you experience, including sounds and sights that are "random and background" that you may have only consciously noted for a second when it happened

Just before the US invaded Baghdad in late March 2003, nearly $1 billion dollars was stolen from the Central Bank of Iraq and is now the largest bank robbery in history 

It has been calculated that a single breath from a mature blue whale can inflate up to 2,000 balloons 

A loaded handgun fell from the pocket of a kindergarten student in Houston, Texas, in April 2011, firing a single bullet that slightly wounded two classmates and the "shooter"

Lakewood, Colorado police, attempting to wrest control of a sharpened stick that a second-grade boy was using to threaten classmates and a teacher, gave him two shots of pepper spray. (The boy had just finished shouting to police, "Get away from me you f--- ers")

In June 2011, officials of California's Alvord Unified School District announced that their brand-new, $105 million high school, Hillcrest, would remain unused for the coming school year (and perhaps beyond) because the budget-strapped state does not have $3 million to run the school for a year. (In any event, it costs $1
million per year just to maintain the building to prevent its deterioration)

A Mumbai, India, company, Aegis Communications, announced in May that it will hire about 10,000 new employees to work in its call centers fielding customer service problems for U.S.-based companies. However, those jobs are not in India. Aegis will outsource those jobs to Americans, at $12-$14 an hour, at nine call centers in the United States 

Tennessee State Rep. Julia Hurley apologized in July 2011 and said she would pay for the refinishing of her desk in the legislative chamber after it was revealed that she had carved her initials in it during a January session. "It was like one in the morning on the last day of the session," she told WSMV-TV. "I wasn't thinking straight."  Rep. Hurley, 29, who has a daughter, 14, unseated a nine-term incumbent legislator in 2010 with a campaign that touted her time as a Hooters waitress. "If I could make it at Hooters," she wrote in the restaurant's magazine, "I could make it anywhere"

Monday, October 24, 2011


A sculpture of Darth Vader’s head appears on the outside of the Washington National Cathedral as a grotesque (similar to a gargoyle)

It took three people to compose “The Hokey Pokey” — Roland Lawrence “Larry” LaPrise, Charles Macack and Taft Baker wrote the tune in 1949 to entertain tired skiers at nightclubs in Sun Valley, Idaho

Apple seeds contain trace amounts of cyanide

King Louis XIV lived and ruled so long (72 yrs) that he is not only the longest ruling ruler of Europe but his successor, Louis XV, was neither his son nor his grandson but his great-grandson

On Scooby Doo, Shaggy’s real name is Norville Rogers
Scooby Doo and his pal Shaggy flee a ghost in a typical calamity for the duo
The White House was originally called the President’s Palace. Theodore Roosevelt gave the White House its current name in 1901

Pop singer Madonna’s last name is Ciccone  (Madonna is her given first name)

Not only are all automobile taillights in the U.S. red, they’re a specific shade of red (with a specific color wavelength and intensity) mandated by the federal government

The Netherlands’ national anthem is really only the first and sixth verses of a 15-verse extravaganza written in honor of the Dutch Prince William of Orange

One way lima beans defend themselves is by emitting a chemical warning system against spider mites (which eat lima beans) that attracts predators of spider mites, which then in turn defends the lima beans
A single lima bean plant pushes up to sprout
Valium is based on an all-natural chemical found in trace amounts in wheat and potatoes

The “black box” on an airplane is actually blaze orange so that it can be found easier among the wreckage if the plane were to crash

Once planted, peach seeds can grow nectarine trees (and vice versa)

In 1942, Hollywood actress Hedy Lamarr co-invented spread spectrum communications, the forerunner to today’s CDMA cell phone technology - She had sketched out the idea on a cocktail napkin
Lamarr reached her height of fame and success in the film industry in the 1940s.  She later retired to Florida after a scandal in which she was accused of shoplifting and another after she attempted to sue the ghost writer of her autobiography for fabricating anecdotes in the book.  She died in 2000, and her son spread her ashes in her native Austria
One quarter of the human brain is used to control the eyes

The Jedi census phenomenon is a grassroots movement that was initiated in 2001 for residents of a number of English-speaking countries, urging them to record their religion as "Jedi" or "Jedi Knight" (after the quasi-religious order of Jedi Knights in the fictional Star Wars universe) on the national census.  It is believed the majority of self-reported Jedi claimed the religion for their own amusement, to poke fun at the government, or as a protest against the inclusion of the religion question on the census form. To date, no country has adopted or legally decreed "Jedi" or "Jediism" as an "official" religion

Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a 'Friday the 13th'

A ball of glass will bounce higher than a ball made of rubber - Watch this short video showing a simple way to make your own polymer bouncy ball!

More Americans have died in car accidents than have died in all the wars ever fought by the United States

Natural gas has no smell. The odor is artificially added so that people will be able to identify leaks and take measures to stop them and alert the proper authorities, if necessary

If a car is traveling at 55 miles per hour it will travel 56 feet before the driver can shift their foot from the accelerator to the brake

One million people each year are bitten by animals in the United States - Nearly another million are bitten by other people each year

Turtles survived the upheavals of the last 200 million years, including the great extinction episode that eliminated the dinosaurs. Today, about half of the world's turtle species face possible extinction due in large part to a growing demand for turtles as a popular dining delicacy and a source of traditional medicines

"Science does not trump the testimony of individuals," said Detroit prosecutor Marilyn Eisenbraun, explaining her office's decision in April to disregard DNA evidence that the University of Michigan's Innocence Clinic said exonerates Karl Vinson, 56, who has spent 25 years in prison for rape. Despite the science, Eisenbraun said she had to stick with eyewitness identification by the victim. Although Vinson has been eligible for release for 15 years, the Parole Board keeps turning him down because he refuses to acknowledge guilt. (Update: In July, the Michigan Court of Appeals declined to order either Vinson's release or a new trial but did grant him an extraordinary right to appeal, based on the new evidence)

A 53-year-old man committed suicide in May by wading into San Francisco Bay, 150 yards offshore, and standing neck-deep until he died in the 60-degree water, with police and firefighters from the city of Alameda watching from shore the entire time. Said a police lieutenant, "We're not trained to go into the water [and] don't have the type of equipment that you would use . . .." KGO-TV attributed the reluctance to budget cuts that prevented the city's firefighters from being re-certified in water rescues
Britain's Ben Wilson is one artist with the entire field to himself-- the only painter who creates finely detailed masterpieces on flattened pieces of chewing gum found on London sidewalks.  Frequently spotted lying nearly inert on the ground, working, Wilson estimates he has painted "many thousands" of such "canvases," ranging from portraits and landscapes to specialized messages (such as listing the names of all employees at a soon-to-be-closed Woolworth's store). According to a June New York Times dispatch, Wilson initially heats each piece with a blowtorch, applies lacquer and acrylic enamel before painting-- and sealing with more lacquer. And of course he works only with tiny, tiny brushes

In May, in Albany, New York, and in June, in Bluefield, West Virginia, two men, noticing that police were investigating nearby, became alarmed and fled out of fear of being arrested since both were certain that there were active warrants out on them. Nicholas Volmer, 21, eventually "escaped" into the Hudson River and needed to be rescued, but the police were after someone else, and no warrant was on file against him. Arlis Dempsey Jr., 32, left his three kids on the street in Bluefield to make a run for it before police caught him, but he was not wanted for anything, either.  (Both men, however, face new charges-- trespassing for Volmer, and
child endangerment for Dempsey)

Monday, October 17, 2011


PEANUTS has appeared in some 2,600 newspapers in 75 countries and has been translated into 21 languages. United Feature Syndicate started the strip in syndication on October 2, 1950. Snoopy first appeared on October 4, 1950  (Pictured below is just one volume of dailies published in the 1950s... below that is the very first PEANUTS strip to appear in a daily newspaper in 1950)

John F. Kennedy and Warren Harding were the only United States presidents to be survived by their fathers

The star known as LP 327-186, a so-called white dwarf, is smaller than the state of Texas, yet so dense, that if a cubic inch of it were brought to Earth, it would weigh more than 1.5 million tons

The celebration of the new year is the oldest of all holidays. It was first observed in ancient Babylon about 4,000 years ago. In the years around 2000 B.C.E., Babylonians celebrated the beginning of a new year on what is now March 25, although they themselves had no written calendar  

Tongue prints are as unique as fingerprints

Green tea has 50 percent more vitamin C than black tea

Continental snow cover would advance to the equator, and the oceans would eventually freeze, if there was a permanent drop in just 1.6 to 2.0 percent in energy reaching the Earth

The loop on a belt that holds the loose end is called a "keeper"

Rattan palms found in the jungles of Southeast Asia have vinelike stems that trail along the jungle floor up to 250 feet in all directions  (Pictured below are the vines as the come off the rattan in the jungle, and beneath that an image of how locals in areas of the jungle use the vines, which are strong enough to make a bed, clothing, rope, and other useful materials)

In 1937 the emergency 999 telephone service was established in London. More than 13,000 genuine calls were made in the first month

In Florida, women may be fined for falling asleep under a hair dryer, as can the salon owner

Jacques-Yves Cousteau invented the aqualung, the self-contained device that supplies air under pressure for underwater divers
The last words of famed ballerina Anna Pavlova were "Get my swan costume ready" - a "swan dance" is the phrase associated with something coming to an end

The average human eye can distinguish about 500 different shades of gray

The average healthy adult human ingests about a ton of food and drink each year  

Many insects hear with their hair. A number of insects, such as the male mosquito, have thousands of tiny hairs growing along their antennae

The world's largest yo-yo resides in the National YoYo Museum in Chico, California. Named "Big Yo," the 256-pound yoyo is an exact scale replica of a Tom Kuhn "No Jive 3 in 1 YoYo." Fifty inches tall and 31.5 inches wide, the yo-yo is made of California sugar pine, baltic birch from the former USSR, and hardrock maple. It was first launched in San Francisco on October 13, 1979

There are 1,792 steps leading to the top of the Eiffel Tower

The Japanese word for chef, itamae, literally means "in front of the cutting board"

Harps are played throughout much of the world. In Africa alone, there are more than 150 distinct harp traditions

More than a third of all adults in the US and Britain hit their alarm clock's "snooze" button each morning an average of three times before they get up. Those most likely of snatching some extra sleep are those in the 25–34 age bracket, at 57 percent           

Young birds such as ducks, geese, and shore birds are born with their eyes open 

Laptop computers get bumped around because they are portable, which makes them around 30 percent more likely to fail than a computer that stays in one place 

In Rome, the world's first paved streets were laid out in 170 B.C.E.  The new streets were popular as they were functional in all types of weather and were easier to keep clean - the only complaint found in writing was that they amplified the city's noise level 

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, written by Mark Twain, was the first novel ever to be written on a typewriter

Studies show that one out of every 3,000 children has some form of autistic disorder

Attitudes about death and dying differ from one culture to the other. For example, Korean-Americans and Hispanics are less likely than Anglos and African-Americans to believe a patient should be fully informed about a serious illness   

The human hand contains an average of 1,300 nerve endings per square inch

Every hour, nearly 12,500 puppies are born in the United States

Nitrous oxide was discovered in 1800. When inhaled, it was found to give a giddy, intoxicated feeling and to release the emotions. People laughed inanely, so it was called "laughing gas." For a while, parties were organized at which people sat around inhaling its fumes

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

The study of mountains is called "orology"

The land area of the country of Greece is slightly smaller than US state of Alabama    
Tablecloths were originally meant to serve as towels with which guests could wipe their hands and faces after dinner

A 50-year-old man was charged with indecent exposure near Yakima, Washington in March 2011 when he jumped in front of a woman, genitals exposed, but otherwise dressed in a diver's wet suit, mask, and bright orange gloves

Businesses typically resist government regulation, but in March 2011 Florida's interior designers begged the state House of Representatives to continue controlling them, with a theatrically ham-handed lobbying campaign challenging a deregulation bill.  Designers righteously insisted that only "licensed professionals" (with a minimum six years of college and experience) could prevent the nausea Floridians would suffer from inappropriate color
schemes (affecting the "autonomic nervous system" and salivary glands). Also, poorly-designed prison interiors could be turned into weapons by inmates. Furthermore, deregulation would contribute to "88,000 deaths" a year from flammable materials and hospital infections that would suddenly inundate the market in the absence
of licensing. Said one designer, addressing House committee members, "You [here in this chamber] don't even have correct seating"

Ellenbeth Wachs, 48, was arrested in Lakeland, Florida in May on a complaint that she "simulated" a sex act in front of a minor. In a March 2011 incident, Wachs, after receiving medication for her multiple sclerosis, was awakened at 8:30 a.m. by her 10-year-old neighbor boy's clamorous basketball game, near Wachs's window. After unsuccessfully beseeching the boy for quiet, Wachs- hoping, perhaps, to make a point about noisy neighbors- began moaning out the window (while remaining out of sight), "Oh, John! Oh! John!" over and over at increased shrillness as if in the throes of orgasm.  The basketball-playing stopped, but the incident was not a teaching moment. The boy's father, Otto Lehman, called the police and filed for an order of protection against Wachs  

Monday, October 10, 2011


Nerve signals may travel through nerve or muscle fibers at speeds as high as 200 miles per hour

A rodent's teeth never stop growing. They are worn down by the animal's constant gnawing on bark, leaves, and other matter

In 1803, North Carolina (not California) was the site of first U.S. gold rush. The state supplied all the domestic gold coined for currency by the US Mint in Philadelphia until 1828

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, weighs over twice as much as all of the other known planets combined

The National Sporting Goods Association says one-fourth of all athletic products are purchased during November and December, the holiday shopping period

The heaviest known meteorite to fall to Earth – the Hoba West meteorite – lies where it fell in Africa and weighs about 60 tons - The Hoba meteorite is thought to have landed less than 80,000 years ago. It is inferred that the Earth's atmosphere slowed the object down to the point that it fell to the surface at terminal velocity, thereby remaining intact and causing little excavation. The meteorite is unusual in that it is flat on both major surfaces, possibly causing it to have skipped across the top of the atmosphere in the way a flat stone skips on water 

The average person's field of vision encompasses a 200-degree wide angle 

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

Of the 398 million landline telephones in the world, more than one-third are in the United States

The Barbie® doll is 11 1/2 inches tall

Denver has the nation's largest city park system, with more than 200 parks within city limits and 20,000 acres of parks in the nearby mountains – an area larger than all of Manhattan 

It was illegal for women to wear buttons in fifteenth-century Florence

The art of map-making is older than the art of writing 

From the 1830s to 1960s, the Lehigh River in eastern Pennsylvania, was owned by the Lehigh Coal Co., making it the only privately owned river in the United States - the company was involved in railroad construction and the extraction of other minerals - it is now known as the Lehigh Coal and Navigation Company  (Pictured below is a news clip from 1920 reporting on a lawsuit in which the company lost to homeowners who were apparently were living on top of valuable ore that the Lehigh Coal Company wanted)

In size, materials, and human labor, the Great Wall of China is the largest construction project ever undertaken by human labor. Enough stone was used in the 1,700-year project to build an 8-foot wall girdling the globe at the equator. The Great Wall snakes its way over more than one-twentieth of the earth's circumference 

The African boabab tree can have a circumference as large as 100 feet. One such tree in Zimbabwe is so wide that the hollowed-out trunk serves as a shelter at a bus stop, with a capacity to hold as many as 40 people   (Pictured below is the external view of the tree that is splitting because of its girth, and beneath an image of the same tree internally with benches and a tiled floor)

Time magazine named the computer its "Man of the Year" in 1982 

Under a treaty dating back to 1918, if the Grimaldis of Monaco should ever be without a male heir, Monaco would cease to exist as a sovereign state and would become a self-governing French protectorate

A cockroach heart is a simple tube with valves. The tube can pump blood backwards and forwards in the insect. The heart can even stop moving without harming the roach   

More than 1,130,000 packages of Jell-O gelatin are purchased or eaten every day

Before going into the music business, Frank Zappa was a greeting-card designer    

The majestic eastern slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town create the home of the world-renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The gardens are dedicated to the preservation of the indigenous plants of South Africa. More than 6,000 different species of plant are grown here, including ancient cycads and many species of erica, pelargoniums, ferns, and rare succulents

Red wines have about five times more tannin than white wines  (Learn all about tannins and other wine-related info by clicking here:

In February 2011, a New York City gallery began offering classes in "anthropomorphic taxidermy," described as a "Victorian hobby" in which mouse carcasses are not only meticulously cleaned and stuffed but outfitted in hand-made miniature 19th-century clothing, such as bloomers. British practitioners are said to have created
elaborate scenes featuring scores of the costumed bodies. Class instructor Susan Jeiven said the mice have to look "classy": "I don't like rogue taxidermy"

Scottish artist Jane Forbes, 47, won the "Shoe Is Art" competition in Dundee in late 2010 with a work ("Ad Infinitum") that a University of Dundee spokesman called "awe-inspiring." Forbes painted (and photographed) the same pair of shoes every day for 66 consecutive days, hypothesizing that subtle differences in her "mood" would be detectable in any variations in the paint jobs 

Michael Trias, 20, was arrested in March in Mesa, Arizona after a botched residential burglary. According to police, Trias had come in through a window but had landed in a clothes basket made of PVC and netting, and
become entangled. His flailing attempts to free himself alerted the homeowner 

Monday, October 3, 2011


The five favorite U.S. school lunches nationwide, according to the American School Food Service Association, are, in order, pizza, chicken nuggets, tacos, burritos, and hamburgers
An actual school lunch purchased by a student in grade 10
Obesity among children in the US has reached epidemic proportions with the Centers for Disease Control issuing a warning to parents and adults nationwide in 2009 urging the adults to help children exercise and eat a healthier diet - television commercials now run on all major stations in the US urging kids to exercise - 1 in 3 children in the US is considered overweight or obese

English has replaced Russian as the most popular foreign language in schools in China

Before the enactment of the 1978 law that made it mandatory for dog owners in New York City to clean up after their pets, approximately 40 million pounds of dog excrement were deposited on the streets every year 

The female knot-tying weaverbird will refuse to mate with a male who has built a shoddy nest. If spurned, the male will take the nest apart and completely rebuild it in order to win the affections of the female

A survey of US married couples showed that while those with children are less likely to divorce than childless couples, the arrival of a new baby is more likely to bring more stress and emotional distance than new happiness. Nearly 90% of couples experienced decrease in martial satisfaction after the birth of their first child

It is more likely that Americans will recycle than vote

The shape of a dog’s face suggests how long it will live. Dogs with sharp, pointed faces that look more like wolves typically live longer. Dogs with very flat faces, such as bulldogs, often have shorter lives

The word "snorkel" comes from the German word Schnorchel, which was a tube used by German submarine crews in WWII. The subs used an electric battery when travelling underwater, which had to be recharged using diesel engines. The engines needed air to run. To avoid the hazard of surfacing to run the engines, the Germans used the schnoerkel to feed air from the surface into the engines  (Pictured below a snorkeler in mud- a snorkel allows a person to look and breathe while at things beneath the surface while breathing through a tube that sticks out above the surface)

More than 1,000 different languages are spoken on the continent of Africa. The Berbers of North Africa have no written form of their language. Somalia is the only African country in which the entire population speaks the same language, Somali  

After mating, the female black widow spider devours her male partner - The female may dispatch as many as 25 suitors a day in this manner 

Maine is the only state in the United States whose name is just one syllable

A group of bees can be called either a hive, a swarm, or a grist

Although manatees are excellent swimmers, the deepest that one has been observed diving is 33 feet. Typically, the large, gentle creatures feed no deeper than about ten feet below the surface of the water

In 1997 a Menorah was built in Latrun, near the main Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. It was more than 60-feet tall, weighed 17 metric tons, and took up an area of 600-square meters. A rabbi was lifted in a crane each night of the holiday to light the candles on the menorah, which was made of metal pipes

7.5 million toothpicks can be created from a cord of wood

In 1931, an industrialist named Robert Ilg built a half-size replica of the Leaning Tower of Pisa outside Chicago and lived in it for several years. The tower is still there 
There are 52 cards in a standard deck and there are 52 weeks in a year. There are 4 suits in a deck of cards and 4 seasons in a year. If you add the values of all the cards in a deck (jack=11 queen=12, etc.) you get a total of 365 the same as the number of days in a year  

In 1935, Jesse Owens set six track and field world records in less than one hour - He participated in the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany, where he achieved international fame by winning four gold medals: one each in the 100 meters, the 200 meters, the long jump, and as part of the 4x100 meter relay team - Just before the competitions, Owens was visited in the Olympic village by Adi Dassler, the founder of the Adidas athletic shoe company. He persuaded Owens to use Adidas shoes, the first sponsorship for a male African-American athlete - Hitler refused to attend the medal award ceremony

Graffito is the little-used singular of the much used plural word 'graffiti'

The word "yo-yo" itself was a registered trademark of Duncan until 1965, the company that manufactured its invention and sold millions worldwide to kids and adults alike

Some species of ant can survive for up to two weeks underwater

In 1992, a yo-yo was brought into space by astronaut Jeffry Hoffman on the space shuttle Atlantis

The toe of the metal statue of St. Peter in St. Peter's Cathedral, Rome, is worn down almost to a nub by the great number of pilgrims who have kissed it through the centuries  
Until recently, many pregnant women at risk of delivering prematurely could be aided by an obstetrician recommended work- up of a chemical compound, at a cost of about $10-$20 a dose.  However, in February 2011, the Food and Drug Administration approved a specific commercial version, K-V Pharmaceutical's Makena, which K-V began pricing at $1,500 a dose (citing its need to recoup "research" costs). K-V also began threatening dispensers of the work-up compound, since FDA had anointed Makena with "market exclusivity.") (Update: K-V subsequently lowed the price to $690 per dose)

Britain's Border Agency announced the firing of an immigration officer in January 2011.  The man had apparently turned sour on his marriage, and while his wife was on holiday with her family in Pakistan, he quietly added her name to the terrorist list of people not allowed into the country

In March 2011, a teenager was charged with attempting to rob the Fun 4 All comic-book store in Southfield,
Michigan with a homemade bomb (that looked realistic but turned out to be harmless) and presenting a list of the specific collectors' merchandise (not money) he wanted. After the clerk balked at the demands, the robber relented, paid cash for a few of the items on the list, and left. When arrested later, he called the incident a "social experiment"

James Chapek, 55, was charged with burglary in March 2011 after he broke into a house in Portland, Oregon and took a shower. Unknown to him, the resident was in another part of the house and came, with his two German shepherds and a gun, to confront Chapek through the closed bathroom door, while calling 911 emergency services. Fearing the dogs and the gun, Chapek simultaneously dialed 911, himself, begging that
officers come quickly and arrest him. (Chapek, later released on bond, was re-arrested two days later in Chehalis, Washington while, according to police, loading shoplifted goods into a stolen car)

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