Tell us an interesting random fact you stumbled across

I learned yesterday (from Planet Money) that 50% of the Indian workforce is in farming, as opposed to 25% in China, and 1% in the US.

From John Huston’s IMDB bio: A licensed pilot–and a prankster. He once flew over a golf course during a celebrity tournament and dropped 5,000 ping-pong balls on the players.

Interesting, but I think it’s important to distinguish between people in the farming business and their employees, versus people who are subsistence farmers, growing food to eat and otherwise being largely disconnected from the economy. The US has substantially zero subsistence farmers, whereas a hefty fraction of India’s farmers are exactly that.

It’s still the case that subsistence farming is a monstrously bad / inefficient way to feed your populace and to deploy them as a matter of economics. But it would be worlds worse if instead they had 50% of the workforce deployed in what we’d call agribusiness.

When frogs hear passing aircraft, they think it is thunder, that rain will follow, creating wet pools to support their hatching tadpoles. Of course, it doesn’t ran, and in a test of South Africa’s Pickersgill’s Reed Frog, they died out near a new airport from repeated unsuccessful breeding attempts.

Years ago I had a friend who was a production engineer in car assembly. His employer sold the line to an Indian company and he found a new job over there that was actually a step up.

A year or so later he was back home for a family wedding and I asked him about the new job. In the UK, he spent most of his time devising ways to automate production and reduce human involvement. In India, he did the opposite - the government was funding the project and wanted to create the maximum number of jobs.

It’s about 50 percent in most of sub-Saharan Africa as well, maybe more in some countries. Most are subsistence farmers, who grow enough to feed themselves, and, in a good year, have extra to sell.

It’s slowly changing as people move from rural areas to urban centers, and the remaining farmers use more capital (tractors, fertilizers, etc…) to produce food.

As an aside, I once shot high-powered* microwaves at myself for 5 minutes or so. I was working as a TV news photographer setting up for a live shot via microwave. Before I had the dish tuned-in to the repeater tower I accidentally turned the transmitter on while it was still pointed downward at me.

I can report that I am still alive and still quite hot.

*I don’t remember the exact power but anything’s “high-powered” when it’s shooting radiation at your nuts.

A pro-cycling twofer:

Alex Dowsett, British professional cyclist and former holder of the hour record is believed to be the only able-bodied elite-level athlete to also be a haemophiliac.

Dowsett suffers from haemophilia and wears a necklace, detailing his medical needs, when out riding. Speaking on ITV’s Cycle Show in July 2013, Dowsett cited this medical condition as being a key factor in his choosing competitive cycling in his youth, above other sports, because contact games such as football and rugby were considered too risky. His mother inserted knee and shoulder pads into his school uniform and he wore special trainers.

He is believed to be the only able-bodied elite sportsman or woman with the condition. As a result, he has a special exemption from the Union Cycliste Internationale’s no needles policy, introduced in 2011, to inject himself with the clotting protein Factor VIII every 48 hours.

Speaking of exemptions from the no-needle policy, all members of Team Novo Nordisk cycling team are type 1 diabetics.


I have decided against Googling it, but I saw the claim this week that the shortest human was only three inches taller than the longest penis.

Shortest human was 21½ inches tall. No specifics on the length of his 8’3" friend’s penis.

Do you mean you have a high temperature, or that you’re extraordinarily attractive to the opposite sex?

If the latter, can it be a Hulk-like superpower that you gained from exposure to radiation? That always works in the comics

Mosquitoes kill more people than any other insect. Here is what mosquito larvae look like.

I think you mean mosquito-borne diseases?

@Treppenwitz wrote about a haemophiliac bicycle racer. My brother once went to a bike racing camp. He was out-classed by the rest of the guys. He was by far the oldest in the group, and the only one with unshaved legs. He explained to me that the shaving wasn’t for aerodynamics. It’s because when you crash, as everyone eventually does, first aid is easier on shaved legs.


New Orleans is going to rename about 20 schools for reasons. The link is to a list of about 200 proposed names. One of them is NO Merit High.

I’ll have to think about that. I suspect that the mosquito bite itself isn’t inherently deadly because a lot more people would die if it were. On the other hand, without the mosquito a lot of the diseases wouldn’t be transmitted in the numbers they are. Maybe it’s like a gun and bullets—neither’s very deadly without the other.

Considering how much effort public health officials exert in an attempt to control mosquito populations, it would seem that mosquitoes are a critical part of the problem.

Background information: in Japan when people leave their house for work, school or to run an errand, they will say “itte kimasu” which means “I’m going and will come back.” People will also say that when going on sales calls, business trips or other errands from work.

I just learned that kamikaze pilots would just say “ikimasu” which means “I’m going” (without the return part.)

I’m reading a history of prohibition and found some fascinating. For instance, the dry forces were behind the Seventeenth (income tax) amendment as a way of preparing for the Eighteenth (prohibition). One of the arguments was that the government was funded by excise taxes on liquor, so an income tax created a new source of funding.

They also pushed for the Nineteenth Amendment (votes for women), thinking women would support prohibition.

Walgreens became a major player in the pharmacy business due to Prohibition. They weren’t bootleggers, but pharmacies were allowed to sell liquor for medical purposes. They (and many other drugstores) would accept anything resembling a prescription and sell brand name liquor with their labels intact (or faked).

There also was a major increase in the number of Jewish congregations, which could legally use sacramental wine.

Nitpick: 16th Amendment. The 17th dealt with the direct election of senators.