Monday, February 6, 2012


The Taj Mahal was orignally called the Rauza-I Munavvara which means “Tomb of Light.” In 1631, Shah Jahan, emperor during the Mughal empire's period of greatest prosperity, was grief-stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their 14th child, Gauhara Begum. Construction of the Taj Mahal began in 1632. The court chronicles of Shah Jahan's grief illustrate the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later

Emperor Hirohito was more than a political power; he was also well respected in the field of marine biology

The first British bungee jump occurred on April Fool’s Day, 1979. Dressed in a tux and hugging a bottle of champagne, 33-year-old David Kirdke did a back-flip off the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. The crowd, who thought they were witnessing a suicide attempt, watched him plunge 250 feet toward the Avon, but to their surprise, never saw him hit water

G.I. Joe's action figure counterpart is called “Action Man” in the U.K.

Action Man is a master of disguise, depending on the mission! 

The Riddler from Batman has a real name — Edward Nigma (that would be E. Nigma)

Giving a “thumbs up” also represents the American Sign Language symbol for the number “10” and to the general population is read as a metaphor for approval, but it means different things to different people:  In Australia, a thumbs down tends to be seen as approval and the thumbs up as disaproval, or worse; in Iran and Iraq as well as Thailand, it is an extremely obscene gesture; in Japan the thumbs up means okay but it is not a gesture used commonly by adults; in Turkey it is not used and elicits confusion from onlookers when American visitors use the gesture

The infinity sign is properly known as a “lemniscate”

Rice-a-Roni (”The San Francisco Treat”) was based on an Armenian recipe for rice pilaf

George Washington preferred not to shake the hands of visitors– he would bow instead

Actor/comedian Chevy Chase occasionally played pick-up drums for one of the original lineups of Steely Dan, known as The Leather Canary

The Brothers Grimm didn’t invent much of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. They simply recorded the stories they were told by locals, and gathered them together in a collection

Jellyfish are 94-98% water - This one-minute video shows a scuba expedition where a swimmer is surrounded by jellyfish

The average life span of a Major League Baseball is 7 pitches

Before returning to the silver screen in Gangs of New York in 2002, Oscar winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis was working as a cobbler in Florence, Italy

Two-thirds of the world’s lawyers live in the United States

The Halifax explosion which occured December 6, 1917, and killed 2,000 people, was the largest man-made explosion until the first atomic bomb was dropped in 1945
The city of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, was devastated by the huge detonation of the SS Mont-Blanc, a French cargo ship, fully loaded with wartime explosives, which accidentally collided with the Norwegian SS Imo in "The Narrows" section of the Halifax Harbor. About 2,000 people were killed by debris, fires, or collapsed buildings and it is estimated that over 9,000 people were injured.   The Halifax Explosion remains the world's largest man-made accidental explosion

In 1950, Zenith created the first TV remote control called “Lazy Bones”

Nearly 30 percent of Dalmatian dogs are born with complete or partial hearing loss

In addition to his work in atomic theory and physics, Albert Einstein helped to patent several refrigerator designs, though none of them proved successful

Trees do not grow higher than 130m as it is physically impossible for the water to rise higher - The tallest tree in the world is a 112.7 meter-high redwood located in California

1904 Olympic marathon champ Thomas Hicks used an odd sports drink: a mix of brandy and strychnine - 
Conditions were bad, the course being a dirt track, with large clouds of dust produced by the accompanying vehicles. Hicks was not the first to cross the finish line, trailing Fred Lorz. However, Lorz had abandoned the race after 9 miles. After covering most of the course by car, he re-entered the race 5 miles before the finish. This was found out by the officials, who disqualified Lorz, who claimed it had been a joke.  Had the race been run under current rules, Hicks too would have been disqualified: he had been given a dose of 1/60 of a grain (roughly 1 mg) of strychnine and some brandy by his assistants, because he was flagging badly during the race; the first dose of strychnine did not revive him for long, so he was given another. As a result, he collapsed after crossing the finishing line. Another dose might have been fatal. Strychnine is now forbidden for athletes
Hicks is helped to a nearby car after collapsing following his finish of the marathon

Prime Healthcare Services, with a reputation for rescuing financially-failing hospitals, reported that two new acquisitions, in Victorville, California and Redding, California somehow curiously experienced rates about 40 and 70 times the state average in patients with a rare Third World Ghanian sickness that, conveniently, qualified the hospitals for enhanced Medicare reimbursements

In a pre-trial motion in a Chicago court case in May, the defense lawyer for Exotic Motors, Inc., which is being sued over car repairs, complained about plaintiffs' lawyers' unusual decision to permit a female paralegal to sit at their courtroom table, especially since she is a "large-breasted woman." Her "sole purpose" at the table, lamented defense lawyer Thomas Gooch, was "to draw the attention of the jury," presumably in favor of the plaintiffs. Gooch later told the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin that he was concerned only with her "qualifications" to sit at the table

Principal Terry Eisenbarth apologized to parents and children at Washington Elementary School in Mount Vernon, Iowa, in May and promised to stop his ritual "whammies," in which he summons kids on their birthdays to his office, sings "Happy Birthday" to them, and ceremonially spanks the child's backside with a cushioned hockey stick (with the number of whacks equaling the child's age)

Former Camden, New Jersey police Sgt. Jeffrey Frett pleaded guilty in May in a scheme to qualify for early retirement by arranging to be shot in the leg (to be attributed to random street violence). The plan deteriorated, police said, when Frett's wife (the designated shooter) missed his leg, merely ripping a hole in his uniform pants

Ryan Martin, 29, and Erica Clayburn, 20, were charged with reckless endangerment in Derry Township, Pennsylvania in April 2011 after Martin was shot in the jaw. The couple were playing a game resembling "Marco Polo" with a loaded handgun, with an eyes-closed Clayburn firing when Martin shouted "Gun!" (Martin was supposed to duck out of the way before Clayburn pulled the trigger)

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