Tell us an interesting random fact you stumbled across

With all the talk about oil and the middle east, I was surprised to learn recently that most of America’s imported oil - just over half - comes from Canada.

OPEC provides only about 15 percent of America’s imported petroleum.

Hence Bush’s famous and not-so-idiotic line that “more and more of our oil imports are coming from overseas”. While oil from Canada is still imported, it’s considered much more acceptable than from most other oil-producing nations.

Of course, Canada also imports a lot of oil from the US, because the nearest well/refinery might be on either side of the border.

I knew that Delaware’s & New Jersey’s border is rare since it is on a shoreline and not the middle of the river the separates them. I learned yesterday that New Hampshire’s & Vermont’s border is on the west bank of the Connecticut River.

The former Northwest Territory was strictly north of the Ohio River. But the western boundary was the middle of the Mississippi River. So borders of the states wholly within it (Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan) follow those old boundaries. That is, the Ohio River is not in Ohio.

Except, the borders are based on the original surveys of the rivers. So there’s some funky borders like one near Gallopolis where the river’s course has changed significantly.

It’s an interesting question of whether center-of-river or edge-of-river is more common for jurisdiction boundaries.

One of the Cleveland suburbs is named Rocky River, after a local river of that same name (one of a great many so-named rivers worldwide, I’m sure). If the locations of the “Welcome to…” signs on the bridges are any indication, none of the Rocky River is within the boundaries of Rocky River.

Bagdasarian and Saroyan collaborated on the hit single “Come on-a my House,” making Saroyan one of the few Pulitzer Prize winning authors (who didn’t write musicals) to hit #1 on the charts.

And now I have just learned that there is a TV show (based on a book series) in which former Chancellor Angela Merkel (a fictional one, obvs) spends her retirement solving murders.

It’s called “Miss Merkel”.

I don’t know what to do with this information, but there it is.

Bob Dylan won a Nobel Prize and had four songs he wrote hit number one on some chart:

Apparently, until 1979, after general elections, the BBC devoted one of its radio frequencies to reading out all the results of every candidate in every constituency.

I’m imagining John Waters reading the gayest election results.

The channel names tell me that was before 1967 (“high-speed computer prediction” suggests 1964 or 1966), so it wouldn’t have sounded that ambiguous then (but Divine rather than JW surely?)

Kenneth Williams, surely.

Ok, I didn’t stumble upon it recently per se, but I did happen upon Cresap’s War a few years ago and still think it’s interesting. It was a War Between The States before the big boys did it years later.

In 1870, Duluth, Minnesota was the fastest growing city in the US, and "would probably pass Chicago in a few years ".

Today - it has a population of 85k - down from a 1960 peak of 107k. It has one of the largest Finnish populations outside of Finland.

Two things to know about Duluth:

  1. Like every self-respecting city, Duluth has a genuine murder mansion

  2. Telly Savalas, Duluth booster

I’ve been reading the collected works of HP Lovecraft, and he used the term “democrat wagon” in one of his stories. From Cowboy Bob’s dictionary:

Democrat Wagon - A light, flat bed farm or ranch wagon, usually without a top, with a skeleton frame and two or more seats. It sometimes has a wire rack for a side. The term “Democrat” was not a partisan designation, but referred to the availability of this inexpensive, easy to handle, wagon to a wide range of people. A Democrat Wagon was so light that if it got stuck a single individual could often lift it out by hand.

“It was an eldritch Democrat Wagon, whose proportions were non-Euclidean, its sides covered with squamous fungoid growths, and piloted by a man of batrachian appearance and suspicious aspect.”

The transit of Venus in 1761 was observed by astronomers Mason and Dixon at the Cape of Good Hope but they are more famous for other measuring work.

The Transit of Venus eight years later was observed in Philadelphia by David Rittenhouse. It’s been suggested that it was inn his honor that they put a canton of white stars in a blue field in the US flag.

He also played Major Bren Derlin in Empire Strikes Back. In the Star Wars CCG card game, the description on his card reads:

“Hero of Nentan. Supervised construction of Echo Base on Hoth. Head of base security. At the Mos Eisley Cantina, everyone knows his name.”