12 Shiny Bits of Trivia That Might Just Buy You Passage Across the River Styx in a Pinch
Ugh. You knew this was going to happen. Here you are, freshly dead on the banks of the River Styx, and you forgot to pop a coin in your mouth before you croaked. Now you have no idea if Charon will let you cross its icy waters to the world of the dead in his rust-colored skiff. Here he comes, like clockwork, with his bug eyes and haggard cheeks, and you just know this freak is gonna ask you for a coin.
Well, with any luck, he’ll take one of these bits of trivia instead. If he’s a fan of Gary Larson, Paul McCartney or Santa Claus, you might just get your ass across the River Styx in one piece. Best of luck!
Uber Can Identify Cops and Avoid Giving Them Rides
They developed a software they called “Greyball” that allowed them to blackball cops from their platform. Using all the most insidious data-gathering techniques available, they created a database of people associated with local law enforcement in cities they weren’t supposed to be operating in, and kept them from being able to score a ride.
A 27-Year-Old Became the Youngest Judge in Pennsylvania History (After Being Jailed Three Times)
Judge Hanif Johnson found himself in legal trouble repeatedly throughout his youth. After turning his life around, he decided to use his experiences on the wrong side of the law to help fix the broken system he experienced firsthand. He says lots of people complain about it, “but we never get up and do anything. This is me getting up and doing something.”
Paul McCartney Has a Head-Scratching Cameo on a Beach Boys Song
McCartney dropped by the studio while the Beach Boys were recording their 1967 album Smiley Smile. He didn’t record any vocals, but he’s reportedly the source of the celery-chomping noises in the song “Vegetables.”
The Russians Stunk Up the 1908 Olympics Because They Were Using the Wrong Calendar
It’s reported that the team showed up 13 days late because they hadn’t switched over to the Gregorian calendar yet, like the rest of Europe had. Partly because of their stubborn adherence to the Julian calendar, they won a measly three medals that year.
The Nepalese Flag Is Technically Irrational
So many people were drawing the flag wrong, the Nepalese government added instructions on how to properly construct it to their constitution. The ratio of its height to width is an irrational number.
Santa Claus Is a Registered Pilot
In 1927, the Assistant Secretary of Commerce officially granted Santa a pilot’s license. It was reported from the official ceremony that “airway maps and the assurance that the lights would be burning on the airways Christmas Eve were also given to Santa.”
North Korea: Were #1!
The reclusive nation and family business is incredibly desperate to be the biggest or best in the world at anything other than human rights violations. For more than 30 years, they had the largest stadium in the world: Rungrado 1st of May Stadium has a capacity of 114,000, besting Michigan Stadium by over 6,000 seats. But India’s Narendra Modi Stadium took the top spot from the hermit kingdom when it opened in 2021, with a capacity of 132,000.
The Couple Who Put the Spark Back in Their Marriage Through Cyber Cheating
In 2007, a couple in a faltering marriage each independently turned to the internet to fill the romantic voids in their lives. They unknowingly met each other in a chatroom, one going by “Sweetie” and the other going by “Prince of Joy.” Like a scene out of a romcom, they decided to meet in real life, and when they realized what had happened, they both raced to divorce each other. Prince of Joy said, “I still find it hard to believe that Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a nice word to me for years.”
A Disney Roller Coaster Has Been Proven to Help Pass Kidney Stones
Several people have reported passing a stone after riding one particular coaster, prompting a theory that it had just the right G force to knock those rocks loose. Urologist David Wartinger ran a ton of experiments using a replica kidney (and a handful of real kidney stones), and confirmed that the stones would pass 64 percent of the time. According to Wartinger, “Big Thunder Mountain was the only one that worked. We tried Space Mountain and Aerosmith’s Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and both failed.”
Gary Larson Inadvertently Named a Dinosaur Part
Before Larson referred to the Thagomizer in this 1982 Far Side comic, the spikes at the end of a stegosaurus’ tail bafflingly had no name. It has since been used by the Smithsonian, Dinosaur National Monument, the BBC and tons of scientific publications.
An Annoying Excel Quirk Forced Scientists to Rename Genes
Because Excel thinks everything is a date, some genes — for example, “MARCH1” and “SEPT1” — had to have extra characters added to their official names, so that Excel wouldn’t change them to March 1st and September 1st. One biologist described it as “really, really annoying.”
A Man Faked His Own Kidnapping So He Could Hang Out With the Boys
In 2013, a man arranged to have two friends break into his home, with guns out and masks on, and drag him out of the house. After partying with his attackers for a couple of days, he strolled back into his home and told his wife his kidnappers had let him go. The police, who had quit looking for him after a matter of hours, by the way, eventually squeezed the real story out of him, and he pled guilty to making a false report to police.