Your SINGLE favorite piece of information

The link you posted Reeder supports it.

“It was long believed that Edison had coined the word “hello,” and in the 1980s, a scholar named Allen Koenigsberg found proof. He discovered a letter Edison wrote to Mr. T.B.A. David, president of Pittsburgh’s Central District and Printing Telegraph Company. That letter, dated August 15, 1877 … includes the first known written use of the word “hello.””

I hate to rain on your favourite piece of information…but I don’t believe he coined the word and I don’t believe that evidence establishes that. I think it’s far more likely that it was a common greeting of people calling to each other over long distances…and who had no reason to write it down…and which Edison picked up on and popularized.

Personally I think it’s just as interesting enough that our common expression of greeting was, essentially, established by one guy. And how narrowly we escaped saying “hoy hoy”.

I would add my own favourite but my mind is still reeling from the possibilities.

The aorta of a blue whale is large enough for a grown man to crawl through. That’s messed! I wonder if you could fit into a ventricle? How many litres of blood do those critters have?!

I once wrote a autobiography in 9th grade entitled, “Whale Aorta: The Nunavut Boy Story”

Did you know that a duck’s quack doesn’t… Sorry, sorry!

I like that one! Your “when famous people died” factoid reminded me of a couple that I’d at least consider if I had to narrow it down to my single favorite: that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the same day: July 4, the 50-year anniversary of Independence Day; and that Samuel Clemens’s (aka Mark Twain) birth corresponded with one arrival of Halley’s Comet and his death with the next.

The world’s largest musical instrument, the Riverside Church carillon in New York, consisting of over 100 tons of bells, can be drowned out at street level by the chimes on a passing ice cream truck.

Cite. me. I heard it happen.

Duuuuude! The thing about octopuses running on two legs is probably my favorite, too. I have always been fond of them, and when that news story broke–wow! Not only are they smart critters, they walk!

From your own cite:

The margin seems much slimmer than I thought, though. I guess I was always told the much larger metro area population given as 19.9 million there. NYC would have lost on the metro area size as well on that site had they not sneakily combined New York and Philadelphia into one huge metropolitan area (I live directly between these two cities and certainly don’t feel citified!).

Perhaps so, but the primary reason for the large Japanese-Brazillian population is that Brazil accepted a lot of immigrants from Japan in the early 20th century (pre-WWII), primarily for coffee farm labor. As I understand, the main reason was that Brazil had a shortage of farm workers after abolishing slavery.

With a curriculum vitae like that, could ninja-hood be far behind? Coming soon to a theatre near you: Kenneth Branagh’s Life of Marlowe. The action packed adventures of the ninja-poet who crossed Lady Fate one too many times. gasp

I’m torn. I don’t know what my favorite piece of information is. One option is that the worst medieval swear words were forms of blashphemy, so that swearing by a saint’s or God’s body parts was wildly popular among the pissed off. This led to curses like, “God’s balls!” and “By St. Peter’s mighty rod!” Medieval swears are the best when you’re upset. There’s something about screaming, “St. Perpetua’s womb!” that is infinitely more satisfying than a simple “goddamn.”

The other option is that the codpiece (which started as a simple flap and bag and later expanded to, uh, protuberance), either began as a way to maintain your modesty when strutting about in a short doublet and hose, or because hose became so tight moving was impossible without a gusset. Either way, it was keeping the fruit in the basket.

So, I’m slightly scared that both of my favorite facts involve penises. I’m trying to think of more, but they all involve ways of controlling breasts in historical ways. I think I need to . . . I don’t know. Eat some graham crackers. Take a physick.

King Edward II of England and Roger Mortimer share a birthday: April 25, the feast of St. Mark. Edward was three years older than Roger. Of course, many years later Roger Mortimer had Edward executed.

The [White] Ibis has a reputation* for being the last bird to flee the Everglades in the face of an approaching hurricane, for being the only creature that can outrun ('fly) a hurricane, and for being the first bird to return to their habitat after one – and that’s why it’s the official mascot of the University of Miami (go 'Canes!).

It also illustrates just how thin a line can separate bravery from stupidity.

Some photos of the White Ibis.

Some damage photos from1992’s Category-5 Hurricane Andrew. My money’s on… the hurricane. Yep.

The takes-no-crap mascot named “Sebastian”. How did Sebastian get so tough? By fending off all the other college and university mascots in elementary school who were picking on him and making fun of his foreign-sounding name, that’s how.

The Hurricane Sports page writeup of the storied bird. Unfortunately, it reads like a non-sequitur: “…folklore maintains that other birds look to the Ibis for leadership. The Ibis uses its instinct to detect danger. It is the last sign of wildlife to take shelter before a hurricane hits, giving warning that danger is imminent…”. If it’s true that the other birds wait and watch for the Ibis’ leaving as a sign that they’d better bug out too, then the ibis isn’t really the last bird to flee, is it? And it gets worse when you consider the claim, made elsewhere, that only an ibis can outrun a hurricane: that would mean that any other (slower-flying) birds which rely on the ibis as an indicator species would be waiting too late to flee anyway. Sounds like a bunch of so-called bird-brains…

Another U. of Miami write-up, explaining how the teams came to be known as “The Hurricanes” following a really nasty one that hit in the summer of '26, postponing the start of Miami’s football season. Officially, “The Hurricanes” is the nickname, **Sebastian the Ibis ** is the mascot, and that annoying “U” on the helmets and countless T-shirts is the logo. (Glad to have all that cleared up.)

First it was a school mascot; now it’s also a corporate logo! (With a neat photo of an ancient Egyptian ibis hieroglyph.)

A short story featuring the ibis’s hurricane-defying reputation. Said short story also sports the phrases “pounds of cocaine” and “only the Yankees run [from hurricanes]”. Only in South Florida, folks…

*Casual (O.K., first-page only; I’m going to bed now) Googling did not authoritatively answer the question of whether this is or ever was the case – perhaps because most bird-watchers will evacuate in advance of a hurricane long before the birds do. The whole thing could have originated as a Miccosukee folktale, for all I know.

Well, of course. If a Brazilian doubted my ability with all things trivial, I would come up with some other gem, like that basset hounds are prone to schizophrenia. (Which is true, I swear to god, I read it in Darwin’s Ghost by Steve Jones.)

This is accurate. Also, at the time Japan was very nervous about overpopulation and encouraged its population to emigrate. Brazil was accepting of immigrants and a lot of people ended up there. There are certainly some Japanese people in in Brazil working in banks and such, but most Japanese-Brazilians have had families there for multiple generations and aren’t there temporarily for business. They speak Portuguese as a first language and are well-integrated into Brazilian society, etc.

I took Ethnographies of Brazil in college and my professor had spent time in Japan studying Japanese-Brazilians who had gone to Japan to work (if you’re of Japanese ancestry, you can get a work permit there quite easily, so lots of Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese descent for there for a few years because the wages are good and Japanese people don’t want to do manual labor). Then they spend their nights in Brazilian bars and restaurants watching soccer and dancing samba.

It’s a wonderful country, and some of the funnest Japanese I know are from there

Actually, it’s the real melting pot, but…
In the world…

Los Angeles is the second largest city of Canadiens. (Or once was. Maybe it’s changed. Or maybe just outside of Canada–correct me if I’m wrong.)

Definitely, in the world, …

Los Angeles is the second largest city of Mexicans.
Los Angeles is the second largest city of Thais.
Los Angeles is the second largest city of Armenians.
Los Angeles is the second largest city of Koreans.
Los Angeles is the second largest city of Salvadorans.
Los Angeles may be the second largest city of Guatemalans.

New York and London may compete with variety, but LA has the volume.

Shucks, these statics may be old, or vague…

My favourite piece of info I actually learned from the Straight Dope many years ago - pigs have a corkscrew-shaped penis.

Mount Isa in Australia has laid claim to being the world’s largest city.


In Australia that’s not hard to do. I’d like to open the world’s largest mini golf course. Could I do that over there? I think the first hole should be a couple of miles at least. With a volcano or something like that.

Urchin, an archaic name for hedgehogs, is derived from the Latin ursinus, which means “little bear”: from hedgehogs, which look like little bears, we get sea-urchins and spiky-haired street urchins. How cool is that?

After a few years of trying to disprove this, I’ve given up… :

There is no word in the English language that rhymes with Orange. :cool:

Never found any other words that have no rhyming companions either.


That is all.

I always liked that one too. I read it in the original SD book in the mid 80s and was always curious – Slug’s drawing wasn’t exactly a lifelike rendition. It took the coming of the Internet to make actual pictures of a pig’s corkscrew tool accessible to the common individual :eek:.