12 Unholy Bits of Trivia Wrought Upon the World by an Inquisitive God
We really lucked out. A lot of folks thought God would be vengeful, wrathful or simply indifferent. Nope — it turns out this particular God is just really into trivia! Instead of smiting us, or turning us into pillars of salt, or visiting big dramatic plagues upon us, this God just unleashes swarms of neat little facts whenever They get mad. So instead of dealing with like, way too many locusts, we got these tidbits about the World War II potato battle, computerized clams and a psychological trick that makes guys pee a little more carefully.
Not a bad deal, all things considered.
The Dramatic Potato Battle of World War II
What we know for sure is that the USS O’Bannon was being attacked by a Japanese submarine, maneuvered extremely close to it for somewhat technical defensive/offensive reasons, and lived to fight another day. Commander Donald MacDonald reportedly said that they were so close, his cook could have thrown a potato at the Japanese sub, but it’s also been rumored that sailors did indeed hurl potatoes at their enemies, who mistook them for grenades, and retreated. The Potato Growers of Maine made a plaque to commemorate the “attack,” so, that’s canon now.
The Woman Who Wrote ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ Also Invented Thanksgiving
Sarah Josepha Buell Hale’s poem “Mary’s Lamb” appeared in her 1830 book Poems for Our Children. Later in her life, she pestered five different presidents over the course of 17 years to make the regional New England holiday of Thanksgiving a national holiday.
Jimmy Carter Lost the Nuclear Football at the Dry Cleaners
Presidents need to carry around a small card with secret nuclear launch codes, as part of the “black bag” or “nuclear football.” Carter left the card in his suit when he sent it to be dry cleaned.
More People Use Social Media Than Use Toilet Paper
Only about 30 percent of the world’s population polish their third eye with strips of soft paper, while approximately 60 to 70 percent of all humans on Earth use some form of social media.
One Man Is Documented to Have Gone His Entire Life Without Seeing a Woman IRL
Mihailo Tolotos, a monk whose mother died during childbirth and who lived his entire life inside a secluded Greek monastery, went 82 years without ever having visual confirmation of the fairer sex. He also never saw an airplane, a car or a movie.
Fat Kathy’s Computerized Clams
An old well in Warsaw, known colloquially as “Gruba Kaska” (“Fat Kathy”) employs eight full-time water-monitoring clams. They’re hooked up to computers that observe their movement — mollusks are extremely sensitive to pollutants, and will start to close if they detect pesticides or heavy metals.
Some Toilets Trick You Into Peeing More Cleanly
There’s a long, storied history of putting fun little pictures in toilets to make men aim more carefully. Toilet mascot Thomas Crapper printed a little bee on his toilets, after the custom of 19th-century Brits who did the same as a joke (the honeybee’s genus is “Apis”). An airport in Amsterdam started installing fly decals in the 1990s to reduce spillage. And in 2009, Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels promotional urinal cakes appeared around the U.S., with Simmons declaring, “For all of you who have always wanted to pee on my face!!! Now you can.”
Japan’s and Germany’s Rail Systems Are So Reliable, They Offer Hall Passes If the Train Is Late
Conductors will offer certificates of lateness, and even apologize directly to all passengers affected, if a train is as little as five minutes behind schedule. People use those certificates to be excused for tardiness to work or school events.
No One Knows Why the Academy Awards Are Called the Oscars
Actress Bette Davis claimed she started calling the statues Oscars because the trophy’s ass reminded her of her late husband’s. Margaret Herrick, the one-time president of the Academy, claimed to have named it after her Uncle Oscar (no mention of his butt cheeks, but we can assume there was also a resemblance). Some attribute it to gossip columnist Sidney Skolsky, who made a reference to an ancient, indecipherable Vaudeville joke: “Will you have a cigar, Oscar?” Ultimately though, the timeline isn’t quite right on any of those claims.
An Australian Journalist Named Her Baby Methamphetamine Rules
While investigating the Births Deaths and Marriages register, reporter Kirsten Drysdale submitted the name “Methamphetamine Rules” for her infant son. A representative for the register said the name “unfortunately slipped through” the cracks, but also clarified that the department “does not choose what name parents give a child.”
Lie Your Way to a Restful Slumber
A study found that “placebo sleep” — i.e., telling yourself you had a good night’s rest, even if you slept like shit — can make you perform better on cognitive tests.
The Nikola Tesla Memorial Wi-Fi Hotspot
RIP Tesla, you would have loved Wi-Fi. Tesla was a huge proponent of the idea of the wireless transmission of electricity, so fans Kickstarter’d a 100-year time capsule and statue in Silicon Valley, that also happens to transmit free Wi-Fi.