15 Balls of Trivia That Landed in Our Baskets This Week
The movie Air, which came out in theaters in April, started streaming last week. Many viewers enjoyed watching the story of Nike signing Michael Jordan and learning a bunch of related facts. For example, the NBA fined Jordan for wearing Air Jordans, and Nike gladly paid the fines themselves. Nike got its “Just Do It” slogan from the final words of a murderer facing execution. Adidas was founded by a Nazi named Adolf. People back in the 1980s mistook Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” as a patriotic anthem.
Of course, if you’re a loyal Cracked reader, you already knew all those facts, since we told them to you years ago. We feed you facts every day. Here are a few more of them…
1. Labor Day
Grover Cleveland created Labor Day to respond to strikers. That sounds like a pro-labor move, right? Nope, just the opposite. He created it to counter strikers by undermining their labor day, May Day.
2. Baaaaad Man
A Dutch man got off on a bestiality charge because the sheep could not testify. The law only said bestiality was illegal if it violated the animal’s consent, and the alleged victim sheep was not able to deliver testimony about this point.
3. Useless Knives
Table knives, the kind you use to spread stuff on sandwiches, have a curved edge because of one paternalistic king. King Louis XIV banned pointed knives, so people invented this dull alternative as a replacement.
4. Keep Calm and Carry On
“Keep Calm and Carry On,” we think, was a slogan from World War II. But Britain barely got around to distributing any of the millions of posters they printed. The poster and the phrase only became popular half a century later, when a bookstore stumbled on some of the old posters and decided to commercialize them.
5. Navel Stones
Do not be alarmed if you find black hard stones in your belly button. They’re called omphaloliths and may measure a centimeter long and wide.
6. Pricey Wool
The rarest fabric we have comes from vicuñas, animals that live in South America. We’ve tried to domesticate them, just like we have with all animals with valuable wool. It’s never worked out. When we try, they abandon their complex mating rituals.
7. See No Evil
The phrase “turn a blind eye” is often attributed to Admiral Horatio Nelson, who’d purposely look through a telescope with his blind eye when he wanted to ignore orders. This origin is total nonsense, as the phrase had been used for centuries before he was born.
A different admiral was fired for warning that Pearl Harbor looked vulnerable. Centralizing the fleet there was a bad idea, said James O. Richardson, and they removed him from command because he wouldn’t shut up about it.
9. The Smell of Fear
The smell of freshly cut grass is your terrified lawn calling for help. You’re smelling a volatile organic compound (VOC) released as a distress response. These VOCs try to repair damage and transform the grass’ taste to be less pleasant, as the grass responds as though it’s being eaten and trying to survive.
10. Prenatal Incest
Mites have sex with their siblings before they’re even born. Each female is therefore born already carrying fertilized eggs. The eggs hatch internally, and her offspring eat her from the inside, killing her.
11. The Pony Express
Based on how we’ve all heard of the Pony Express, you might think this was a system of postage that went on for generations. But it ran for a grand total of 18 months, and was operated by a single private stagecoach company.
12. The Dribbly Loophole
Basketball didn’t have dribbling, originally. You were supposed to never move when you had the ball. You were supposed to transport the ball only through passing.
Many people imagine that eight planets are the most significant objects in the solar system, after the Sun. And yet, one moon of Jupiter’s, Ganymede, is larger than Mercury (as well as much larger than Pluto, which was once considered a planet).
14. Woodland Critters
Before they used Smokey Bear, the Forest Service used Disney’s Bambi as their fire-prevention mascot. They only came up with Smokey because their license on Bambi ran out.
In 2008, Fiat caught a factory worker watching porn on his laptop during a break. They fired him. The man challenged his termination all the way to the Supreme Court, who ruled that workers do in fact have the right to watch porn.