12 Bits of Trivia That Can Do Some Heavy Lifting on a Really Bad Date
To be clear, this has to be a world-class disaster of a date. Like, you went over to their place and straight-up lost their dog, or you tried to muscle through a bout of lactose intolerance at the Cheesecake Factory. During some horrible, interminable moment of stunned silence, you might break the tension by bringing up the new pogo stick world record, or the man who was killed by his own beard, or maybe the Crayola bigwig who harbored a dark secret for decades.
Will it get the night back on track? The odds aren’t great. But maybe one day, years from now, one of your pearls of wisdom will come in handy, and your date will look back on the night as a net positive.
There’s Evidence of Service Dogs From the First Century A.D.
There are wood carvings and Chinese scrolls depicting dogs leading blind people as early as the Middle Ages. But the earliest known reference to guide dogs was discovered on a fresco in the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum.
The Modern Day Robin Hood Was a Bad Banker
Gilberto Baschiera was a bank manager in a small Italian town during the 2009 financial crisis. He was required to deny loans to poor people (approving outsized loans being one of the leading causes of the crisis), but decided he knew a more sustainable solution. He started borrowing money from the accounts of rich locals, depositing it into those of poor locals, allowing them to take out larger loans. He thought this would be a temporary switcheroo, and the beneficiaries would ultimately pay back the double-loans, but they predictably did not. He was found out when the scheme broke the million dollar mark, and was sentenced to two years in prison.
Two Guys Konami-Coded Their Way Into About Half a Million Dollars
Two hackers figured out that they could game a casino’s video poker machines by pressing an elaborate series of random buttons. It’s similar to how video-game speedrunners work. They were charged with wire fraud and computer fraud, but the government wasn’t able to prove that they’d done anything illegal, so the charges were dropped.
Princess Diana Insisted Michael Jackson Play ‘Dirty Diana’
When he found out Princess Diana would be at one of his shows, Jackson removed the song from the setlist out of respect. Diana actually approached him before the show, told him it was her favorite song and requested that he put it back in.
Car Companies May Be Bigger Climate Villains Than Oil Companies
Taking into account the energy consumed during production, some major car companies’ carbon footprints are larger than poor, harmless scapegoats like BP and Exxon Mobil.
A Guy Came out of Pogo Retirement To Break the World Record
James Roumeliotis retired from pogo in 2015, but he got back in the game for just under 12 hours to break the world record (and raise $11,479 for Boston-area veterans) at 115,170 hops. The previous record was 88,047.
A Man Was Murdered by His Own Beard
Bavarian Mayor Hans Staininger died in 1567 when he tripped over his own 4.5-foot beard, tumbled down the stairs and broke his neck. The beard is still on display at a local museum.
About 500 People Are Currently Cryogenically Frozen
There are also thousands of currently-alive never-corpses waiting patiently for their turn in the cryovats. Aspiring human popsicles keep detailed instructions on their persons, requesting first responders to keep them on oxygen, deliver them to the proper facilities, where they’ll be dehydrated and dipped in liquid nitrogen.
The Biggest Scandal the Crayon Industry Has Ever Known
Upon his retirement after 37 years as Crayola’s chief crayon molder, Emerson Moser announced that he’d been blue-green color blind the whole time.
Perhaps the Worst First Day in the History of Jobs
On 9/11/2001, Ben Sliney was just starting his first day as the FAA’s chief of air-traffic-control operations, when it became evident that the country was under attack. He had to make the call to ground just about every plane on the continent, presumably while he was still perusing his orientation pack from HR.
Did You Think There Was Symbolism in ‘The Old Man and the Sea’? You Idiot. You Pretentious Buffoon.
Soon after publishing his 1952 novella, Ernest Hemingway wrote in a letter, “There isn’t any symbolism, the sea is the sea, the old man is an old man, the sharks are all sharks, no better nor worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit.”
Stephen Hawking’s Time Traveler Trollbait
On an episode of Into the Universe With Stephen Hawking in 2009, Hawking filmed himself partying, alone, under a banner that said “WELCOME TIME TRAVELERS.” In the episode, he cordially invited all time travelers to attend the party, which had happened in the past, to drive home the point that time travel is impossible.