15 Nuggets of Trivia That Filled Us Up This Week
You’re diving in the ocean, a couple thousand feet deep. You see something coming toward you emitting two lights, one green and one red. Obviously, you think this is some kind of human-made watercraft. No animal shoots out beams of light, least of all lights patterned after traffic signals.
But you’re wrong. It’s an animal. Read on to find out what animal exactly, and also to find out the truth about the town that killed Santa.
The Lord of the Rings books say nothing about hobbits having big feet. This fact about them appears in every adaptation but nowhere in the text. J.R.R. Tolkien drew his own picture of Bilbo, giving him normal-size feet.
One Giant Leap
Yuri Gagarin, the first person to go to space, had a scar on his face. This wasn’t from any injury he sustained during space travel. It happened after he jumped out the window of a resort, to avoid his wife catching him in the arms of another woman.
With Palms Wide Open
Fans tried to sue the band Creed for $2 million after one concert in 2002 failed to impress them. A judge threw the suit out. The four fans looking to sue were trying this without input from the 15,000 other concertgoers they sought to represent.
Parroting the Company Line
To promote the 1934 movie It Ain’t No Sin, Paramount Pictures trained 50 parrots to say the movie’s title, then released them. This didn’t turn out to be a very good marketing strategy. After they let the birds loose, censors made the studio change the name of the film, to Belle of the Nineties.
Militaries around the world have something called a graphite bomb, which explodes a cloud of graphite in the air. The cloud doesn’t kill people. It falls over power lines and transformers, short-circuiting them and cutting off the area’s power supply.
The Murder of Willie Edwards
In 1957, Klansmen pointed a gun at a man and made him jump off a bridge, fatally. A judge tossed out a case against the gunman, who was an informant for the FBI. “Merely forcing a person to jump from a bridge,” he ruled, “does not naturally and probably lead to the death of such a person.”
Jersey’s Chief Export
Every MLB baseball is broken in by rubbing it with mud from New Jersey. The mud is provided by one company, Lena Blackburne Baseball Rubbing Mud, and the exact location from which they source this mud is kept secret.
Where In The World?
A volcano erupted in 1465, in what was the biggest eruption in a millennium. We know this, based on sulfur traces trapped in ice. Weird thing, though: We have no idea just which volcano erupted and don’t even know which continent it was on.
At 16, Flannery O'Connor received a home economics assignment to sew a dress. She sewed a jacket, a shirt and a bowtie... for her pet duck, whom she brought to class to model off the clothing.
You Better Watch Out
A man dressed as Santa Claus robbed a Texas bank two days before Christmas in 1927. The city grew impatient with how long it was taking to deal with him after his arrest, so a crowd of 2,000 broke him out of jail and killed him themselves.
Mosquito repellents generally do not repel mosquitos. They do work, but not by repelling anything — no undesirable odor convinces the mosquitos to steer clear. Instead, repellents mask your own odor and otherwise confuse mosquitos, preventing them from ever finding you.
Debate Me, Bro
Cassius Clay (the 19th-century politician, not the boxer) was shot in the chest during a debate. He pulled out a knife and fought back. Specifically, he chopped off the attacker’s nose and eye and threw him off a cliff.
The Red Light Special
The stoplight loosejaw is a type of fish that shoots out beams of bioluminescent light. Most animals there can’t see the red light. The stoplight loosejaw sees it and uses it to hunt. It also looks quite striking when brought to the surface and not emitting light:
The Tale of Luna 1
The Soviets tried to crash a Sputnik-like ball into the Moon in 1959. They missed. That spacecraft is now a satellite — not of the Earth or Moon but of the Sun, because it’s stuck in a heliocentric orbit.
Marriage may not be for everyone, but it comes with certain privileges. In medieval Essex, if a couple lasted through their first year of marriage, then proclaimed publicly that they had not regretted marrying for a single day, the village would ceremonially present them with a free side of bacon.