15 Lustrous Bricks of Trivia We Fell Over This Week
What’s that, you thought you’d read your recommended daily allowance of facts today already? Ha, ha — you were wrong! We have even more facts for you. We will never run short of facts, never.
We can’t even type out facts fast enough to cover them all as new ones are created. We’d have to create some kind of speed-typing robot. No, not an A.I., but a physical robot who hits keys really quickly. We’ll tell you a bit more about that robot below, and also about the least successful horse in history.
1. Purple Hearts
The U.S. is still handing out purple hearts made for an invasion of Japan in World War II. The invasion never happened, but they predicted half a million casualties. That’s far more than the U.S. has had to give out in all the years since, so we’re still awarding the medals manufactured back then.
In 2009, a 28-year-old cannibal cut off his little finger, fried it and ate it. Doctors found this case notable because they studied the man and found that he did not suffer from any kind of psychosis, unlike other autocannibals.
3. Judgment Day
The Comics Code Authority was devoted to keeping offensive content out of comics for the second half of the 20th century. One detail they rejected as offensive? An astronaut being Black. The comic ignored the rejection and published it anyway.
4. Scroll Lock
Even keyboard manufacturers don’t know what the scroll-lock button does. It had an original function, but that became obsolete. As early as the 1980s, IBM started describing it as an inactive key. Other manufacturers didn’t know what it did, but they saw it on IBM keyboards, so they added it to theirs as well.
5. The Axe Man
A knight attacked King Robert in the 14th century, thinking that the king didn’t stand a chance since he was armed with just an axe. But Robert successfully killed the knight with the axe. He then regretted it, because it damaged his favorite axe.
6. Steal My Thunder
The phrase “steal my thunder,” according to Wikipedia, started because a 19th-century playwright feared that someone else would steal his method of producing thunder sound effects. That’s nonsense. That’s not even what the metaphor means, and the phrase existed before that playwright was born.
7. Lyndon B. Johnson
LBJ is widely theorized to have gained power by fixing the 1948 senate primary. He won by 87 votes in a recount, in which 202 late votes were added in alphabetical order in the same handwriting. The judge who certified the votes later claimed he’d done so fraudulently.
8. Belly Button Love Potion
In 2004, Jessica Simpson released a line of edible cosmetics. Consumers did not respond well to them. The user of one product, “Belly Button Love Potion,” reported that after trying some, bees chased her.
9. The Diaeresis
We used to have a punctuation mark in English called the diaeresis, two dots over certain letters, like in “coöperate.” Few people still use it, but the New Yorker still does. They do so because the editor who was going to eliminate the usage died right before writing the relevant memo.
10. A Herpetologist’s End
Robert Mertens’ pet snake bit him when he was feeding it a lizard. This led to 18 days of suffering, ending in his death. He described it all in his diary as it happened, calling it “a singularly appropriate end for a herpetologist.”
11. Haru Urara
One Japanese racehorse at the turn of the century just kept losing every race. So, after more than 100 losses, they held a gimmick race, bringing in the best jockey in the country so she’d win at least one time. She placed second-to-last.
12. Hot Ramen
The Chicago Burn Center reviewed 10 years of data on children’s burns. Out of every single pediatric burn they tracked, 30 percent came from cooking instant ramen.
13. For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn
This is supposedly the world’s shortest story, and is attributed to Ernest Hemingway, who supposedly wrote it to win a bet. He never wrote it. The urban legend that he did only started in the 1990s.
14. Thomas Peterffy
In 1987, authorities cracked down on the first algorithmic trader, telling him he had to enter all trades through a keyboard. So, he built a physical robot, to type the algorithmically generated trades really quickly.
The idea of the EGOT — winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony — originated with actor Philip Michael Thomas. Almost 40 years after voicing his plan to win all four awards, Thomas has not even been nominated for any of them.