15 Earth-Shaking Hunks of Trivia We Learned This Week
The sitcom The Facts of Life ran for an impressive nine years, spanning over 200 episodes. If you’re too young to have watched it during its original run, you may still have heard various other shows crack jokes referencing its famous theme song, all without ever once seeing The Facts of Life yourself or even knowing what it was about. For many people, “the facts of life” doesn’t bring to mind a TV show at all. It brings to mind these facts right here:
1. Star Walking
When Michael Jackson died, fans gathered and mourned at a star labeled “Michael Jackson” on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. That marker really had nothing to do with the King of Pop. It honored an unrelated radio DJ with the same name.
2. The Velarium
The Colosseum had a cloth roof. This movable awning, though it didn’t cover the very center of the arena, shaded the audience. It weighed 24 tons, and it took hundreds of sailors to operate the thing.
3. Mapo Bridge
In 2013, a bridge in South Korea received new signage discouraging suicide. The signs had been put there by Samsung — specifically by Samsung’s life insurance division. Such signs sometimes do deter suicide, but there’s no evidence that these ones succeeded.
4. Fred Astaire, Pro-Skater
In his late 70s, Fred Astaire took up skateboarding. To some extent, the sport came naturally to the skilled dancer. He gave up, though, after he broke his wrist trying one trick, putting him in a cast for six weeks.
5. The Terror of War
Know that famous picture of the “napalm girl,” a Vietnamese girl naked and in pain after a napalm bomb hit her village? She’s still alive today, age 59. Kim Phuk got treatment, grew up, received asylum in Canada 30 years ago and became an ambassador.
6. The Heavy Frisbee
At the first modern Olympics, Robert Garrett was surprised by how light the discus was. He’d only had ancient art to go off of, so he’d built and practiced with a 30-pound disc. The actual discus was just 5 pounds. Garrett won the gold, and set a world record.
7. Dorian Gray
In 2011, people had high expectations when the uncensored original version of The Picture of Dorian Gray was published. This earlier draft had contained more explicit homosexual references. Then people read it and saw just minor wording differences, and they concluded that the standard version was probably better-edited.
8. Vexillology Plagiarism
When Brazil became a republic, it took some cues frin the U.S., modeling its constitution after America’s. It also copied America’s flag, right down to the 13 stripes. The flag lasted just four days before people scrapped it.
9. The Missing Man
In 2003, a Canadian bar had to comply with a new smoking ban. They now discovered that the place’s persistent bad smell could not result from cigarette smoke but had to be something else. They found a body in the walls, which had been decaying there for over a year.
10. So Close
Erneshandt Vincent Wright wrote a book in 1939 called Gadsby, whose gimmick was that it didn’t use the letter e at any point. However, though the 50,000-word novel came close, it in fact did use a handful of e’s. Editors didn’t have the option of pressing ctrl+F and checking to make sure.
11. Ball Inspection
Neutered dogs are not allowed to compete in dog shows. To ensure that the male dog has not been neutered, a judge must feel both his testicles by hand (feel the dog’s testicles, not the judge’s).
12. Emotional Support Bear
George Carlin had trouble narrating Thomas the Tank Engine. As a stand-up comedian, he was used to talking to an audience, not speaking to just a mic. He got around this by keeping a teddy bear next to him while he recorded.
13. Bricked Devices
When a hard disk manufacturer called MiniScribe wasn’t hitting targets, they came up with a temporary solution. They purchased 26,000 stone bricks, shipped them as hard drives, then recalled them before anyone could open the boxes. The fraud did not succeed for long.
In 1317, John Deydras claimed to have been swapped at birth with King Edward II. When he was arrested and lost a trial, he claimed his cat was the devil and made him do it. So they hanged the cat... but still hanged him, too.
15. The Medal of Mediocrity
For a few years, a group named the Millard Fillmore Society met regularly in remembrance of what a forgettable president Millard Fillmore was. They presented an annual Medal of Mediocrity to someone similarly lacking current personality. In 1993, George H.W. Bush beat Woody Allen and the Postal Service to win the award.