15 Sparkling Chunks of Info We Dug Up This Week
“Just the facts, ma’am,” said the detective in that old TV show. Which show was that again? Was it Dragnet?
People remember it from Dragnet, but no one ever actually said that exact phrase on the show. And nowadays, fewer and fewer people even remember Dragnet. Anyway, if a detective ever does look at you and asks for “just the facts,” here’s what you should tell them:
1. A man set up a camera to catch ghosts in his home, and then saw something else completely terrifying.
Instead of ghosts, the camera revealed his girlfriend and his son having sex. This was not technically an example of stepmom-stepson sex, as the man and woman weren’t married, ruining this as a porn premise, but it was still an unpleasant surprise.
2. Freshwater snails are some of the most deadly animals on Earth.
Mosquitos are the deadliest animal because they transmit malaria. Snails clock in not too far behind because they transmit parasites that kill hundreds of thousands of people every year. (The parasites, known as blood flukes, are also deadly animals; blood flukes and snails both receive credit for the resulting kills.)
3. Miley Cyrus told Stephen Baldwin he could appear on her show if he got a Hannah Montana tattoo.
He went through with it, tattooing the initials “HM” on his shoulder. Despite this, he never did end up getting to guest star on Hannah Montana.
4. A bank robber covered his face in lemon juice, thinking that it would render him invisible.
Invisible inks like lemon juice are invisible once they dry, but they do not confer invisibility on other objects. In the robber’s defense, he tested the process with a selfie before going through with the robbery, and the resulting photo did show him with a blurred face, but that was just a photographic error.
5. The first scientist to observe sperm cells was so embarrassed, he tried to bury his discovery.
First, he tried to insist that he’d obtained the semen for his microscope through sex rather than through masturbation, as though that distinction mattered. Then, he decided it was too humiliating either way and asked his colleagues not to share the findings at all.
6. A Florida man won a contest in 2013 to watch the finale of Breaking Bad with the cast.
The following New Year’s Eve, authorities raided his home and found drugs worth over $1 million. It appeared that he and his colleagues had been using a cement mixer during the manufacturing process and had been shipping the stuff out using the postal service.
7. Fujifilm, famous for manufacturing film, has shifted to skincare products.
They reasoned that the rise of digital photography has severely hurt the market for physical film. So in the 21st century, they decided to apply their knowledge of how pigments fade to a new application: cosmetics. After all, makeup and film are both about how collagen and pigments interact.
8. The Secret Service spent several months catfishing a Romanian hacker.
The investigation started with someone attacking point-of-sale terminals in Subway. To trick the culprit into coming to the U.S. for an easy arrest, a male agent pretended to be a female casino dealer. The hacker flew into Boston with a gold necklace and three boxes of grape-flavored condoms.
9. As a congressman, LBJ would keep a snake in his trunk to prank gas station attendants.
Based on the now-forgotten Texas stereotype that Black people fear snakes, he’d roll up to a Black employee and ask him to open the trunk. One time, the employee followed the discovery of the snake by picking up a tire iron and threatening LBJ with it, till a manager intervened.
10. A suspected murderer sold his house, leaving behind photos of him committing the murder.
He sold the house to pay for his court defense — a court defense that succeeded. By the time authorities saw the photos, he had been acquitted and therefore could not be charged for the murder again. They did get him on perjury charges, at least.
11. Leonardo da Vinci was horrified after he cut a frog’s spinal cord, transforming him into a devoted animal lover.
You might know da Vinci as an anatomist, but he stopped experimenting on animals after this. He became a vegetarian, and he’d even buy animals from shops just so he could set them free.
12. The CIA created a bin Laden doll for kids, as a propaganda tool.
Over time, the paint on the doll’s face would change, giving Osama a red face with black markings, to make him look like a demon. Hundreds of the dolls sailed to Pakistan. The doll’s designer? Donald Levine, creator of G.I. Joe.
13. A kid in the U.K. lost his vision and hearing after years of junk food.
Doctors attributed the damage to neuropathy from years of a diet deficient in B vitamins. They halted the vision loss by prescribing him dietary supplements, but he didn’t regain any of the lost vision and remained legally blind.
14. A few years ago, a homeless man found a dropped $10,000 check.
Elmer Alvarez tracked down the recipient, Roberta Hoskie (who could always have just had the check reissued; losing it wasn’t that big a deal). Hoskie, who had also previously been homeless, then got Alvarez a house and a job.
15. New Zealand confined an author to a mental hospital and scheduled a lobotomy for her schizophrenia.
Days before the operation, Janet Frame won a literary prize, and so, doctors canceled her lobotomy. They later concluded that she had in fact never actually had schizophrenia.