Tell us an interesting random fact you stumbled across

My great-aunt Billie would have turned 100 this year. That was her given name; not a nickname.

Was looking at the list of mottos for each U.S. state. I noticed five of them mention God, either in English or Latin: Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Ohio, and South Dakota.

Isn’t Billie Eilish one of the biggest singers in the world right now? And Billie is her given name, not a stage name or nickname.

Just found out today, that seminal British comedy show Fawlty Towers had 12 shows (2 series of 6). Not only that, the two series were separated by 4 years.

Although likely not featured on the final product, a 14-year-old Billy Joel played piano on a demo recording of the Shangri-Las’ “Leader of the Pack”.

She could have a big sister called Allie.

Allie and Liz.

Alligator lizard.

Alligator lizards in the air…

I always wondered if there were a flying lizard. It turns out that the song lyrics refer to clouds shaped like alligator lizards.

More about the meaning of the lyric of “Ventura Highway” in an interview with its writer here.

My tiny little Christian college in Beaver Falls, PA*, is the Birthplace of College Basketball.

From an article in the school paper, "Geneva College celebrated the 125th anniversary of being the Birthplace of College Basketball, dating back to the first game played at Geneva on April 8, 1893, when Geneva defeated the New Brighton YMCA, 3-0.

Charles O. Bemies brought the game to Geneva College after he was hired to be the physical director at Geneva, having learned the game from Dr. James Naismith, its inventor. In Dr. Naismith’s book, Basketball: Its Origin and Development, Naismith was quoted as saying, “Mr. C. O. Bemies, a Springfield boy, had gone to Geneva College as a physical director. Bemies had seen the game played in the Training School gymnasium while he was home on a vacation. He realized that it might solve the need of a winter activity in his school. I told him of the success we had and explained to him the fundamentals of the game. On his return to Beaver Falls he started the game in Geneva College; it is my belief, therefore, that this college was the first to play basketball.”

*Obligatory “Home of Broadway Joe Namath” rah rah goes here

There are also arboreal alligator lizards on the Gulf Coast of Mexico. Doesn’t mention if they get around by jumping tree-to-tree, though.

You may want to clarify this one a little bit. This would be easiest to visualize if you were standing on top of a very tall stool, say 400 km high, and then on top of a bathroom scale. Then, you’d see you weigh 87% of what you weigh down at sea level.

But the ISS is of course in free fall, so you’d not feel this weight at all.

If interested in the “math,” here is a bit of explanation.

The acceleration due to gravity at the surface of the earth is found using this formula…

g = mu / r^2

…with r being the distance from the center of the Earth to the surface, for which a typical (average) value is 6378 km. The value of mu depends on the Earth’s mass and the universal gravitational constant, both are constants, so it’s 3.986e14. Using these figures gives us 9.8 m/s/s, the “textbook” value for gravity at the surface of the Earth.

Using the same formula, but with r being increased by 400 km, gives us a local g of 8.68 m/s/s. To get a figure as high as “89%” we need to push the ISS down to an altitude of about 310 km, roughly 100 km lower than its current perigee (lowest point in the orbit) of 413 km (current orbital info )

Of course this is true, and wasei-eigo ([和製英語]) is proper Japanese.

Typically, however, I hear “Japaneezu-engurishhu,” spoken ironically no doubt. This phrasing would be hard to understand to anyone whose ears aren’t tuned to Japanese pronunciation of English words. In other words, the term itself is also “Japanese English.” :slight_smile:

Dang the editing time-out.
Sorry, it’s 380 km for “89% of gravity at the surface.” Because 89% of 9.8 is 8.72 m/s/s, giving us 380 km. This is only ~30 km below current perigee.

I just learned that Mikhail Gorbachev, the final Soviet leader and who did more to end the cold war than Reagan ever dreamed of, is still alive.

Is he still shilling for Pizza Hut?

I was watching the news with my family, and there was a segment about a manatee food shortage. I learned that manatees are also known as sea cows because they consume mass quantities of undersea vegetation.

Now I know that land cows also consume mass quantities of vegetation, and as a result they emit vast amounts of methane and other gases into the atmosphere. This raised an obvious -to me- question about the sea cows. After some lively family conversation about sea cow flatulence, I went to Google and typed in “do manatees fart a lot?”

To my surprise, this was not an uncommon question. And the answer was way livelier than our lively conversation on the subject.

Not only do manatees fart a lot, they put their farts to good use. It’s how they propel between the surface and the ocean floor. They have a big internal gasbag and they hold ‘em in and fill it up when they want to surface for air, then they let one rip and sink back down to the ocean floor.

Sometimes sea cows with buoyancy problems are rescued and treated. The problem is usually constipation and the treatment is a laxative. Somewhere in Florida, there’s a zoo worker with a conversation stopping answer to the question “What did you do at work today?”

Oh, the eww! manatees!!

Although wide-tip felt markers have existed since about 1910, narrow felt pens (e.g. Flair or Sharpie) didn’t exist until 1962. I looked into this because I happened to be listening to The Caine Mutiny and noticed that the characters were using red crayons for things like doodling during meetings and calling attention to particular articles in a newspaper or items in a list, where today we would use a Sharpie or similar.

They’ve figured out why shoelaces untie themselves.

But what I learned is that when running, a human’s foot hits the ground at 7 gravities, which I think is damned impressive.

I read about the Tour d’Argent restaurant.

Duck, especially the pressed duck, is the speciality (Canard à la presse, Caneton à la presse, Caneton Tour d’Argent, and recently renamed “Caneton de Frédéric Delair”).[10] The restaurant raises its ducks on its own farm. Diners who order the duck receive a postcard with the bird’s serial number, now well over 1 million.[11] (Serial number #112,151 went to U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, #203,728 went to Marlene Dietrich, and #253,652 went to Charlie Chaplin).[12]


The restaurant’s wine cellar, guarded around the clock, contains more than 450,000 bottles whose value was estimated in 2009 at 25 million euros (£22.5 million). Some 15,000 wines are offered to diners on a 400-page list.[13][14]

[read description of pressed duck]

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