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)

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