15 Stunning Dollops of Trivia We Learned This Week
Which animal is so introverted, it dies rather than spend time with a friend? Why did Richard Nixon find Disneyland so amusing? And which priest oversees the Moon? There’s only one way to find out the answer to these questions: Read the following list.
Well, we suppose you could also find the answers by just typing the above questions into Google. But you’re already on this page, so we don’t know why you’d create that extra work for yourself.
1. Outerbridge Crossing
The outermost bridge in New York City is named Outerbridge Crossing. However, it’s not named that because it’s the outer bridge. It’s named for a man, Eugenius Outerbridge. Before, it was called the Arthur Kill bridge, and was not named for a man but for the Dutch phrase for “back channel.”
2. The Tragedy of Akio Tanii
A Japanese fruit scientist discovered that an apple disease, fire blight, had hit the country. This meant the country had to cut exports, and people shamed him so much for his discovery that he killed himself by drinking pesticide.
3. Better Than Bikes
During the second Tour de France, the top four competitors ended up getting disqualified. Their infraction was never revealed, but it couldn’t have been doping, as that was not barred at the time. Fans widely theorize that these cyclists saved time by taking a train.
4. Britain’s Glorious History
A 1707 court case tells of the first documented glory hole. “A Boy in the adjoyning Vault put his Privy-member through a Hole,” noted the court record. The law got involved, not for any sex offense but to prosecute one party for trying to blackmail the other.
5. Zhang Zongchang, Warlord
A Chinese warlord at the start of the 20th century promised that if his army were defeated, he’d return home in a coffin. After a defeat, he came home sitting upright in a coffin placed atop his car. He was also famous for bragging about the size of his penis, hence his nickname, “72-Cannon Chang.”
6. Pocho the Crocodile
A Costa Rican fisherman discovered a crocodile that a farmer had shot through the eye. He treated it at home till it recovered, then he released it into the river. The crocodile came back to his house after that and lived with him for 20 years.
7. OSHA Violation
The tradition of on-hold music goes back to a loose wire. Alfred Levy, who got the first patent for on-hold music, said he stumbled on it when a loose wire hit a girder in his factory, tuning callers into radio broadcasts.
8. Bona Fide, Electrified
When Richard Nixon visited Disneyland, the monorail doors closed too quickly behind him for the Secret Service to come aboard. The train took off, and the agents started running alongside it, trying in vain to get in as Nixon laughed.
9. Mississippi Law
In 2008, a Mississippi woman tried to sell her baby granddaughter for $2,000 and a car. Authorities were ready to arrest her, but then realized no law actually banned this, so they passed a new law against selling children.
10. His Excellency
The Bishop of Orlando oversees a diocese that measures over 14 million square miles. An old law says when explorers discover new land, the bishop of wherever they departed from gains authority over it. That makes the Bishop of Orlando bishop of the entire Moon.
11. Dream Job
In 2014, monkeys in New Delhi kept loitering near the parliament building. To chase them off, the city wanted to bring in scarier monkeys, but animal welfare groups protested (on behalf of the scarier monkeys, who shouldn’t have to work for the government). So the city instead hired 40 men to impersonate scarier monkeys.
12. The Coughing Man’s Secret
When doctors detected a mass in a British man’s lungs, they suspected cancer. Then they dug in and discovered it was a Playmobil traffic cone, which he must have inhaled as a child 40 years earlier.
13. Trench Warfare
During one Gulf War battle, U.S. forces faced Iraqi soldiers in trenches. So the Americans attached plows to tanks, converting them to bulldozers, so they could fill the trenches and bury their opponents alive. The colonel who led the assault figured they may have killed thousands this way.
14. Introverted Shrews
Scientists have tried putting together arctic shrews, which are normally very solitary animals. In these experiments, whenever two live together in a cage, one just suddenly dies, from unclear means.
15. Hail, George the First
In 1862, Greece voted on who should be the next king. Nearly a quarter million people voted. The winner, Prince Alfred of Germany, turned down the appointment. The next 16 top results were all disqualified (they included “The Emperor of Russia,” “A King” and “A Republic”), leaving a winner who’d received just 6 votes. He reigned for 50 years.