[Ye Olde Kuriosity Shoppe]

Amazing Facts

The soil under Mexico City is so soft the city has sunk 10 meters in the last 100 years.

The high school in Steubenville, Ohio has fewer that 800 students. Its football stadium seats 10,000.

There have been roughly 40,000 books published about President John F. Kennedy.

In 2011 one third of all divorce filings in the United Kingdom contained the word Facebook.

In 1942 the United States Supreme Court fined Ohio farmer Roscoe Filburn and ruled that he must destroy wheat that he grew himself for his own use because it would reduce the amount of wheat he would need to buy for chicken feed on the open market and thus affect interstate commerce.

The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population and 50 percent of the world's guns.

Sho Yano entered university at the age of nine, medical school at 12, earned a Ph.D. at 18 and an M.D. at 21.

In the United States, about 30 billion robocalls (pre-recorded automatically dialed solicitations) are placed each year.

Ships in the U.S. navy burn two billion dollars worth of fuel a year.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on business the day the atomic bomb was dropped on that city. The next day he returned to his home in Nagasaki and was there when that city was also bombed. He died in 2010. He is the only person officially recognized by the government of Japan to have survived both bombings.

In June of 2012 a Gallup poll conducted in the United States found that 58 percent of Republicans believe God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.

The Royal Canadian Mint facility in Winnipeg can produce 20 million coins per day.

One early edition of the King James Bible omitted the word "not" from Exodus 20:14: Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Life expectancy in South Korea in 1961 was 51 years. In 2012 it was 79, one year longer than in the United States.

The Mormon Church has baptized Anne Frank, Gandhi, Hitler, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin and Elvis.

When American Playhouse presented the teleplay Judgment at Nuremberg, in 1959, the sponsoring American Gas Company insisted the word “gas” be bleeped out in all references to concentration-camp deaths.

In 2003 the rare earth mineral Dysprosium sold for $6.77 a pound. By 2011 the price had risen to $212.00 a pound.

At the time of his death North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, had a personal library of 20,000 feature films. His favourite movie was Caddyshack.

In 2007 47 percent of Harvard’s graduating class went to work for consulting firms and companies in the financial sector.

In 2005 New York City's Central Park had an appraised real estate value of over 528 billion dollars.

The Walt Disney Company once forced a Florida day care center to remove an unauthorized Minnie Mouse mural and, more recently, told a stonemason that carving Winnie the Pooh into a child’s gravestone would violate its copyright.

In 2011 New York City is in the process of changing all of its street signs from all upper case to upper and lower case. Upper and lower case is easier to read. The project will be completed in 2018 and will cost 28 million dollars.

The 85th floor of the Empire State Building is six inches closer to the ground than it should have been; the weight of the steel compressed the lower floors.

When he was a teenager Francis Ford Coppola attended a military school on a tuba scholarship.

In the 1950s Forest Lawn Cemetery was one of California's top five tourist attractions.

Moso bamboo can grow to a height of 75 feet in two months.

The largest wooden ships ever launched were in China's Ming armada under the command of the admiral Zheng He. They sailed almost a hundred years before Christopher Columbus arrived in America. All of Columbus's ships plus those of Vasco da Gama would have fit on a single deck of a single vessel in Zhing He's fleet.

50% of men and 64% of women who die of heart disease die suddenly without experiencing any previous symptoms.

The world's longest water tunnel is 85 miles long; it leaks up to 35 million gallons a day.

After the first three months the average grave receives only two visits.

The top four American cities with the highest pedestrian fatality rates are all in Florida: Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville.

Four weeks after conception a human embryo is producing a half a million neurons every minute.

Living things existed on Earth for a billion years before there was oxygen.

The drug Botox is made from botulinum toxin. A single gram of botulinum toxin, if dispursed and ingested, could kill 20 million people.

A study by the University of North Carolina says that the average life expectancy of professional football players, regardless of position played, is 55 years.

In 2009, the richest 5 percent Of Americans claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.

Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric did not have to pay any U.S. taxes in 2010.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary the abreviated expression LOL (laughing out loud) was first used in 1960 and stood for little old lady.

A neutrino is capable of passing through six trillion miles of lead without hitting a single atom.

Sharing living quarters for 36 hours with someone who has a cold spreads the cold less than 10% of the time.

An American man who has made it to 87 can expect, on average, another 5¼ years.

A South Korean couple, arrested in 2010, became so immersed in a role-playing game at an Internet cafe that their 3-month-old daughter starved to death. In the on-line game the couple was feeding and nurturing a virtual daughter named Anima.

A recent (2011) study published by AVG, an Internet security company, found that 92 percent of American children have an online presence by the time they are two years old.

Over the years, the official meter has been redefined several times and is now “the length of the path traveled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second.”

The 400-year-old King James Bible is a copyrighted work. The copyright is held by England's current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.

Why does Hollywood love sequels so much? Between 2005 and 2010 only 20 per cent of the movies that earned in excess of $200-million were original.

American teenager, Allison Miller, 14, sends and receives 27,000 texts in a month. She sometimes carries on as many as seven text conversations at a time. According to researchers from the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Ft. Worth, texting while driving accounted for 16,141 deaths between 2002 and 2007. Allison Miller will probably have her drivers license in about four years. We can only hope that by then she will have lost the use of her thumbs.

Life expectancy for Britain’s wealthy is 14 years more than for the poor.

In Japan, prospective astronauts are forced to fold 1,000 sheets of paper into origami birds, which are then analyzed by psychiatrists.

The Starbucks coffee shop chain was named after a Seattle coffee bean store which was itself named after the first mate in Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick.

About 100,000 Americans a year are killed by infections acquired in hospitals.

Actor Tony Curtis was buried with his iPhone.

With only one exception, none of the Republicans running for the U.S. Senate in 2010 accept the scientific consensus that humans are largely responsible for global warming.

According to Nielsen American teenagers (13 to 17 years) send and recieve text messages every 10 minutes of every waking hour of every day of the year. Teenage girls averaged 4,050 texts per month and boys averaged 2,539.

Physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work with ultrathin carbon flakes known as graphene. Graphene is a form of carbon in which the atoms are arranged in a flat hexagon lattice a single atom thick. It is not only the thinnest material in the world, but also one of the strongest and hardest. At the thickness of plastic refrigerator wrap, a sheet of graphene stretched over a coffee cup could support the weight of a truck bearing down on a pencil point. Dr. Geim and Dr. Novoselov first created flakes of graphene by peeling them off graphite using Scotch tape.

Tennessee is one of four states, along with Arizona, Georgia and Virginia, that have enacted laws explicitly allowing people to bring loaded guns into bars.

The Malagasy people in Madagascar prastise a funerary tradition called Famadihana in which people exhume the bodies of their ancestors from family crypts, rewrap them in fresh cloth, then dance with the corpses to live music before reburying them.

The mandibles of the trap-jaw ant Odontomachus hastatus snap shut in the fastest reflex ever recorded in the animal kingdom. The ant's jaws accelerate from zero to 143 miles per hour in 0.13 milliseconds, 2300 times faster than the blink of an eye.

The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims in Brooklyn, New York was a key stop on the underground railroad which smuggled runaway slaves to freedom in Canada and States where slavery had been abolished. One of the ways the church's preacher, Henry Ward Beecher, raised money was by staging mock slave auctions in which the congregation would bid to buy the freedom of a captive slave. In 1860 an auction was held for a nine-year-old from Washington named Sally Maria Diggs. At the end of the bidding the church had raised $900.00, the equivalent of $10,000.00 in today's money.

When the famous photographer Weegee (real name Arthur Fellig) died in 1968 his small New York city apartment was stuffed full of negatives, photographs and photography equipment. Much of it eventually found its way to the International Center for Photography. Along with everything else was a cardboard box labelled Weegee. When it was opened several months after its arrival the box's label was found to be accurate; it contained the ashes of the late photographer himself.

Retired Brig. Gen. Steve Anderson, who was Gen. David Petraeus’s senior logistician in Iraq, said that as of mid-July, 2010 over 1,000 Americans have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan hauling fuel to air-condition tents and buildings for the U.S. military.

John Cleese's father's original name was Reggie Cheese. By the time he signed up for the army in 1915 he had grown weary of all the cheese jokes and changed his name on the enlistment forms to Cleese. When he got married his child was John Cleese, not John Cheese. Oddly, John's father always pronounced the family's name to rhyme with cheese while his mother pronounced it to rhyme with fleece.

Kosher is the fastest-growing segment of the domestic food industry in the United States. One-third to one-half of the food in American supermarkets is kosher-certified.

America's archaic electoral college system of choosing its president was established by that country's founders in part to appease slave-owning states. It is based indirectly on population, and slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person.

The heart of a hummingbird accounts for 20% of its body's volume. Hummingbirds eat 1.5 times their weight in nectar each day.

41% of Americans get cancer.

Air Conditioning accounts for nearly 20 percent of the electricity used in the average American home.

In separate surverys 63% of Americans thought they were smarter than the average American and 70% of Canadians thought they were smarter than the average Canadian. Both are statistical impossibilities.

There are over 12,000 different known species of ants. In total there are ten thousand trillion ants in the world. They collectively weigh about the same as all humans and about ten times as much as all other insects. Colonies of the E. burchellii species of army ant can contain as many as 700,000 individuals. E. burchellii soldier ants bite their enemies with knife-edge-like hooked jaws which they cannot remove once closed. Members of tribes in the Amazon use them to suture wounds, snapping off the bodies once the heads have bitten across the opening of the wound.

Before human activity filled the atmosphere with chemical and light polution the nights were so dark that light from the planet Venus could throw discernible shadows on Earth.

The people of the Kara tribe of Ethiopia bury their dead under their huts.

Modern telescopes compensate for atmospheric turbulence using computerized adaptive optics systems. The AO system creates a tiny artificial star by firing a laser beam into a thin layer of sodium atoms 56 miles above the surface of Earth. It monitors the way the artificial star twinkles because of changes in the atmosphere and adjusts the telescope's optics 1000 times per second to compensate.

The country of Indonesia consists of 17,500 islands.

A human being has roughly 20,000 genes. A poplar tree has 45,000 genes.

There is a 99-cent app available for the iPhone called Type n Walk which uses the iPhone's built-in camera to display on the screen what is happening in the real world.

Over half of the 200,000 citizens of the island nation of Tonga live outside the country.

The average Israeli eats over 34 pounds of turkey per year.

In mathematics 1=.999...

More antibiotics are fed to livestock in North Carolina alone than are given to humans in the entire United States.

In 1993 Virginia limited the number of handguns individuals could buy to one per month. 17 years later the Republican-led House of Delegates voted to repeal the ban. Two-thirds of the more than 800 people who are treated at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center's trauma unit have been shot. According to Rao Ivatury, a surgeon and head of the trauma unit, caring for gun-shot patients costs in excess of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and some into the millions. Even a 10-day stay for a fairly minor wound can cost at least $25,000.

Around 500 new species of wild orchid are discovered every year.

The tallest structure in the world is the Burj Dubai building. The second tallest is the mast of television station KVLY in North Dakota. It was built in 1963.

The day after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Mrs. Kennedy approved the location of his burial in Arlington National Cemetery. It was a serene and peaceful area below the original plantation house (the Curtis-Lee mansion). Earlier in the year the President had visited that that same location and, on being struck by its beauty, murmured "I could stay here forever."

The first showing of a feature-length movie on television happened in 1933. The movie was The Crooked Circle, made in 1932.

A report released in November, 2009 by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project said that a quarter of U.S. teens ages 16 to 17 who have cellphones say they text while driving, and almost half of Americans ages 12 to 17 say they've been in cars with someone who texted while behind the wheel. Teens told Pew researchers that they texted while driving to find friends, get directions and flirt.

Elvis Presley's favourite female vocalist was Anne Murray.

A security guard at a Long Island Wal-Mart was trampled by stampeding shoppers while he was trying to help a young woman who had fallen. People continued shopping even after an announcement that he had died.

The global economic collapse caused by George W. Bush's America ended up causing 63,000 factories in China to close putting 20 million Chinese out of work.

Of 650,000 products studied in 2003, 80% had not existed in 1994.

The Alberta oil sands produces 1.8 billion litres of toxic waste per day.

Before 1950 the average Canadian life expectancy was less than 65 years.

The state of California spends about the same on prisons as it does on education.

In 2009 an average American household has 25 consumer electronic products. In 1980 it had three.

Chicken tikka masala was invented by Bangladeshi immigrants in Glasgow in the mid-1960s. Every year for the last two decades it has polled as the most popular meal in Britain, beating roast beef and fish and chips by huge margins.

Teddy Roosevelt drank a gallon of coffee a day.

In 2009 health care costs a typical American household roughly $15,000.

On September 3rd, 2008, 20-year-old Oklahoma City resident Christopher Hill ran a red light and killed 61-year-old Linda Doyle. He told police he was engrossed in a cell phone conversation and didn't see the red light. Two months later his mother gave him another cell phone, a hands-free model this time, because she believed it would make her son a better driver when he talked on it while driving. Christopher Hill rarely uses a cell phone while driving now but has, apparently, not given up the practise entirely. A 2008 study published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States said that at any time during daylight hours in 2007, 11 percent — or 1.8 million drivers — were using a cellphone. And, in a survey of 1,506 people last year by Nationwide Mutual Insurance, 81 percent of cellphone owners acknowledged that they talk on phones while driving, and 98 percent considered themselves safe drivers. But 45 percent said they had been hit or nearly hit by a driver talking on a phone.

In the early 1980s the average credit card contract was about a page long. Today, it is more than 30 pages.

Canadian Robert White exited the shower one day in April of 2009 and, for some reason, then walked over and stood in front of an open window, naked. At that very moment one of Google's Street View camera cars was driving down Mr. White's street. Mr. White believes the camera photographed him whilst in the alltogether and contacted his MP, Pierre Poilievre. According to Mr. Poilevre, Mr. White was concerned that, as a result of the incident, he might end up an "international sex symbol".

One percent of Pakistanis pay taxes.

The United States spends nearly $700 billion a year on the military and less than $3 billion on the Food and Drug Administration, even though food-poisoning kills more Americans than foreign armies and terrorists.

One-eighth of the world's oil supply is consumed by U.S. private vehicles.

Only half a billionth of the sun’s output hits the Earth.

From Oct. 18 to Dec. 3, 1961, 116,000 people visited New York's Museum of Modern Art before anyone noticed that Henri Matisse's painting "Le Bateau" had been hung upside down.

In 1623, the English Parliament passed legislation to prohibit “profane swearing and cursing.” Under that law, people could be fined for uttering oaths like “upon my life” or “on my troth.” In the Victorian era, the word “bull” was considered too strong for mixed company; instead, one referred to “gentlemen cows.”

In the United States someone is shot to death every 17 minutes. Eight children are shot to death every day. In April, 2009 Texas was considering allowing people to carry concealed guns on university and college campuses.

40% of the skilled or professional male immigrants to Canada leave within 10 years of arriving.

Manufacturing the 29 billion plastic bottles used for bottled water in the United States each year requires the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of crude oil.

An early 20th century editor of the Oxford English Dictionary had an interesting life. An Englishman born in Madagascar, he married a German woman in Oxford in 1913 and went for his honeymoon to Germany. In Germany he was pressed into the German army, captured by the Russians on the Eastern Front, had his prison camp over-run by Bolsheviks who put him to work in Siberia. He escaped to China where he got a ship bound for San Franciso and ended up teaching English at the University of Michigan.

The Book of Common Prayer was the biggest first-day best-seller of all time -- until Harry Potter.

15-year-old Julie Zingeser uses her cell phone to send and receive text messages at home, at school, in the car while her mother is driving, during homework, and as she walks the family dog. She takes her cellphone to bed with her. In one month the Rockville, Maryland teenager sent or received 6,473 text messages. American teens with cellphones average 2,272 text messages a month. In defending her cell phone use Julie pointed out that she does not text while she is brushing her teeth, in the shower or playing lacrosse.

The personal savings rate in the United States was 9 percent in the 1980s. In the 1990s it had dropped to 5 percent. From 2005 to 2007 it was just 0.6 percent.

The Rainbow Room is an upscale restaurant and nightclub on the sixty-fifth floor of the GE Building in Rockefeller Center, New York City. The rent for The Rainbow Room (early 2009) is six million dollars -- per month.

In 2008 the average American’s cellphone bill was $73 a month.

In the United States there were almost 5000 lynchings between 1882 and 1968. In Canada during that same 86-year period there was only one. It took place in 1884 when a group of American vigilantes crossed the border 80 kilometres east of Vancouver and hung a Canadian named Louis Sam who they suspected of murdering a shopkeeper in Washington state. On the evidence, Sam, was probably innocent.

The title of Elvis Costello's 2008 album Momofuku is an homage to the inventor of dried noodles in a cup, Momofuku Ando.

40% of the world's food rots before it can get to market.

In the middle ages monks defined the beaver as a kind of fish so they could eat beaver meat on Fridays.

Adults under 40 have about the same number of cells in their bodies as they did when they were five years old. After 40 it's all down hill.

The banana tree is actually a herb and its fruit is actually a berry.

One barrel of oil is equal to 8.6 years of human labour. Most of the world's supply of easily-recoverable oil has been used up in less than one human lifetime.

20% of the human skeleton gets replaced every day.

In 2002 one in every eight American drivers owned an SUV.

According to the cell phone industry's trade association, CTIA, Americans spent 2.1 trillion minutes on cell phones in 2007.

A recent survey of American teenagers by the education advocacy group Common Core found that a quarter could not identify Adolf Hitler. Roughly a third of all American high school students drop out.

13 million gallons of water is pumped out of the New York City subway system every day.

Contrary to what you might think, China is not the world's leading manufacturer. The United States produces 25% of all manufactured goods. China produces less that 10%.

Many of the world's countries maintain seed banks which store large varieties of seeds native to those countries. In times of natural or manmade disasters like global warming, plant scientists can retrieve the seeds and use them to grow plants adapted to new or changing conditions. In 2002 the Taliban destroyed Afghanistan's national seed bank.

In 1969, the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River in Cleveland caught fire.

Painless childbirth was regularly denounced as a blasphemy against God until, in 1853, Queen Victoria set an example by delivering a child under chloroform. Only then did religious opposition fall silent.

In August, 2007, Pete Doherty, frontman for the English rock band Babyshambles, was under investigation for allegedly forcing his cat to smoke crack cocaine.

In mid-nineteenth-century Vienna doctors typically did not wash their hands between performing autopsies and delivering babies.

On Oct. 9, 1903, the New York Times wrote: "The flying machine which will really fly might be evolved by the combined and continuous efforts of mathematicians and mechanicians in from one million to ten million years." On the same day, on Kill Devil Hill, North Carolina, in his diary, a bicycle mechanic named Orville Wright wrote: "We unpacked rest of goods for new machine."

There are 70 different species of kangaroos and more are still being discovered.

When American billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife (rhymes with safe) married his second wife, Margaret "Ritchie" Scaife, in 1991, he neglected to get her to sign a prenuptial agreement. They are now (2007-10-22) separated and, as part of a temporary settlement, 60-year-old Ritchie Scaife is currently collecting alimony payments of $725,000 a month -- about $24,000 a day, seven days a week. As Richard Scaife's exasperated lawyers put it in a filing, "The temporary order produces an amount so large that just the income from it, invested at 5 percent, is greater each year than the salary of the President of the United States."

A massive opinion poll was conducted in the Middle East in 2003 around the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. An early question was: which nation in the world do you most despise? 84% of respondents said the U.S. is the nation they most despise. Much later on in the poll the same group of people was asked where you would most like to emigrate. 83% said the U.S.

About eight percent of the human genome is DNA from ancient, and now inactive, viruses.

The first commercial microwave oven was installed in a restaurant in Boston. It cost $3000.00, stood two metres high, weighed 363 kilograms and required its own plumbing system.

On 9.7 hectares in the heart of the Borneo rain forest there are about 700 species of trees, as many as exist in all of North America. In 2006 alone, scientists identified 30 new species of fish, 16 species of ginger, two tree frogs and three new trees in Borneo's rain forest.

The groundbreaking for the Pentagon took place on September 11th, 1941. Anticipating American entry into WWII, construction took place 24 hours a day and was completed in 16 months. The equivalent of three Empire State Buildings will fit inside it.

The amount of energy given off by the sun in one second could meet the power needs of the United States for nine million years.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that in the average home, 40 percent of all electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. Products that idle in "standby mode, consumed about 10 percent of total electricity in California homes, according to a 2002 study prepared for the California Energy Commission by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The average life span of a Web site is only 44 to 75 days.

Karl Marx wrote the last pages of Das Kapital standing up because of an attack of boils on his bum.

In the United States ethics panels, known as Institutional Review Boards, are required at all institutions that receive research money from any one of 17 federal agencies. They must approve in advance almost all studies that involve a living person. A report by the American Association of University Professors says an ethics panel asked a linguist studying a preliterate tribe to “have the subjects read and sign a consent form.” Another forbade a white student studying ethnicity to interview African-American Ph.D. students “because it might be traumatic for them.”

A 1992 study showed that 80% of Russian farmers still believed in werewolves.

An issue which came before Britain's House of Lords was who should succeed Lord Moynihan who died in 1991 while running a string of massage parlours in the Philippines -- his half brother, an olympic rower or the five-year-old boy who is said to be his son by a belly dancer. The rower got it.

When the clock inside London's Big Ben goes a little bit out of whack it is adjusted by adding or removing one-penny copper coins to the pile on top of the four-metre pendulum. One coin equals two-fifth of a second over a 24-hour period.

A poll taken in Iraq in the fall of 2006 found that 78 percent of Iraqis believe that American troops provoke more violence than they prevent. Another poll, conducted by the U.S. State Department and reported by The Washington Post, found that nearly three-quarters of Baghdad residents would feel safer if American forces left Iraq.

In the human body virtually every orifice and the digestive tract are swarming with bacteria, fungi and other microbes. By some estimates, only one out of every 10 cells in the human body is human.

In 2006 Toronto schools were warned that celebrating Halloween might offend Wiccans.

According to the U.S. government's Energy Information Administration, in 2004 greenhouse gas emissions from the world's smokestacks, chimneys and vehicles totalled 27 billion tonnes -- equivalent to the weight of one and a half Hummers for every human on Earth.

Quaker Maple and Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal is one third sugar. The box front contains a "Smart Selections Made Easy" check mark.

Ellis Island, the famous immigration portal located in Upper New York Bay, is made almost entirely from landfill salvaged during the digging of New York City's subway system. 40% of Americans have at least one ancestor who arrived in the United States through Ellis Island. In Ellis Island's peak year 11,700 newcomers were processed in a single day.

While the U.S. murder rate has remained fairly constant (due in part to better emergency health care) the rate of aggravated assaults -- attacks with intent to kill -- is now over seven times higher than it was 1957.

In the Vietnam War 50,000 American bullets were fired for every enemy soldier killed.

In all wars before 1950 85% to 90% of soldiers in combat failed to use their weapons on the enemy. After the battle of Gettysburg in the American Civil War 90% of the 27,000 muskets collected from the battlefield had not been fired. It is estimated that, in the Second World War, 1% of all fighter pilots were responsible for more than 40% of confirmed air combat kills. This began to change with the Korean War. Army researchers found that the "angry fire" rates in that war had climbed to 55%. In the Viet Nam War 90% to 95% of American soldiers fired their weapons with intent to kill.

According to a 1994 study by the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University there are, on average, 100 to 150 bugs per 1,000 lines of commercial computer software code.

According to data compiled by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston at the beginning of 2007 the top five Wall Street firms (Bear Stearns, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley) were expected to award an estimated $36 billion to $44 billion worth of bonuses to their 173,000 employees, an average of between $208,000 and $254,000, with the bulk of the gains accruing to the top 1,000 or so highest-paid managers.
There are 93 million production and nonsupervisory workers (exclusive of farmworkers) in the U.S. Their combined real annual earnings from 2000 to 2006 rose by $15.4 billion, which is less than half of the combined bonuses awarded by the five Wall Street firms for just one year. Between 2000 and 2006, labor productivity in the nonfarm sector of the U.S. economy rose by an impressive 18 percent. During that same period the inflation-adjusted weekly wages of workers increased by just 1 percent or $3.20 a week.

After Einstein fled Nazi Germany to take up residence in Princeton, New Jersey, he was asked to make a contribution to the American war effort by donating, for auction, the origianal manuscript of his 1905 Special Theory of Relativity. He had discarded the original but agreed to rewrite it so that the copy could be sold at auction. The copy was purchased by an insurance company for $6.5 million.

Einstein never drove a car or flew in an airplane.

The average weight of American men (191 pounds) and women (164 pounds) has increased 25 pounds since 1960. According to a 2003 study, America's 223 million cars and light trucks (pickups, vans and SUVs) burned an extra 39 million gallons of fuel for every additional pound of passenger weight. So Americans are now burning up almost a billion gallons of gasoline more each year than they would if they weighed what they did in 1960.

The so-called "Spanish Flu" which killed approximatley 30 million people between 1918 and 1920 actually emerged in an American Army camp in Kansas before being carried to Europe by American troops.

The town of Colma, California was designed (from the ground up, so to speak) as a necropolis. It was founded by cemetery operators in 1924, to protect graveyards (and their residents) from eviction from big cities where escalating real estate prices were making the land occupied by cemeteries very valuable. A decade earlier San Francisco, 10 miles to the north, evicted all but a couple of the 26 cemeteries there, along with the thousands of bodies they held. 73 percent of Colma’s 2.2 square miles is currently zoned for cemeteries. There are 17 distinct cemeteries in Colma, catering to Italians, Jews, Greek Orthodox, Japanese and Serbs; Wyatt Earp and Joe DiMaggio are buried in two of them. “We have 1,500 aboveground residents,” Mayor Helen Fisicaro said, “and 1.5 million underground.” The town motto is “It’s Great to Be Alive in Colma!”

If all of the bacteria in and on an average living human body were laid end to end, they could circle the Earth two and a half times.

Fifty-four percent of Americans live within 50 miles of a coast.

Fewer than half of all Americans can name even one of the Gospel authors. At least one third of all Americans considered themselves evangelical or born again Christians. 78% of American evangelicals voted for George W. Bush in 2004.

20% of Canada's population is foreign-born.

In 2001 at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo a single tuna sold for $173,000 U.S.

The Marquis de Sade used chocolate suppositories to treat constipation while he was in prison.

92% of Frequent Flyer miles are never redeemed.

In a post-2006-election poll the non-denominational spirituality Web site Beliefnet.com found that nearly 60 percent of non-evangelicals have a more negative view of Jesus because of Christian involvement in American politics and almost 40 percent believe that George W. Bush’s faith has had a negative impact on his presidency.

In chess after the first two moves of any game (one move each for each of the two players) the board sits in one of 400 possible configurations. The second pair of moves leaves the board in one of 71,852 potential patterns, the third in one of nine million. After four moves by each player the number of possible board configurations stands at 315 billion and by the conclusion of the average game the number is greater than the number of electrons in the universe.

The Battle of New Orleans, made famous by the popular Johnny Horton song, was part of the War of 1812 but it was fought after the war had ended because neither side had received news that a treaty had been signed.

When Richard Nixon went to China in 1972, the Chinese were so eager to impress the visiting press corps that they put a fresh coat of lacquer on all the toilet seats in the Nationalities Hotel near Tiananmen Square. The extract of sumac in the lacquer caused many of the journalists to break out in painful boils, a condition which came to be known as "baboon bottom."

Studies conducted at the University of Arizona found that telephones are the most germ-infected objects in our lives and that computer keyboards have 400 times more bacteria than an average toilet seat.

A one-litre bottle of Dasani brand bottled water cost $1.59 at a Toronto supermarket in September of 2006. This is about 3000 times the cost of the water. The water is actually municipal water which comes out of a tap in Brampton, Ontario, about 30 miles away. Coca-Cola Bottling Company filters the water and adds minerals to it before bottling it. Canadian federal product labeling laws do not require bottlers to indicate that their products are really just tap water.

According to the United Nations Labour Organization between March 2003 and April 2005 13,000 mariners died at sea.

In the 2004 American presidential election, Ohio's chief elections officer and the co-chairman of the Committee to Re-Elect George Bush in Ohio were the same guy, Ken Blackwell.

The 2006 opium harvest in Afganistan is around 6,100 metric tons. That represents 92 percent of total world supply and it exceeds global consumption by 30 percent.

Nikola Teslas's mother invented a number of household appliances including the mechanical egg beater.

King Edward III ruled England during the 14th century and had nine children who survived to adulthood. Among his documented descendants are Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert E. Lee, Charles Darwin,Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Brooke Shields and American presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Zachary Taylor and both Roosevelts. Some experts estimate that 80 percent of England's present population descends from Edward III.

In Japan an average cell phone is in use for less than a year.

Gus Weiss, a Nixon White House economist suspected that the Soviet Union was gaining an economic advantage by stealing American technology. In collusion with U.S. business, he crafted a counter- espionage scheme whereby the Soviets would steal technology integral to gas pipeline systems. The systems the Soviets ended up stealing were designed to fail and in 1983 caused an explosion so big (three kilotons) that it was seen from space.

This line appears in the July 22, 2006 edition of the column The Lacey Report in The Globe & Mail: "During the studio's current bloodletting of 650 employees, executive Nina Jacobson learned she was sacked when she called Disney chair Dick Cook from the hospital as her partner was giving birth to their third child." Welcome to the 21st century.

Some albatrosses can sleep while they fly.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the forty-two presidents who held office between 1789 and 2000 borrowed a combined total of $1.01 trillion from foreign governments and financial institutions. But between 2001 and 2005 alone, the Bush White House borrowed $1.05 trillion, more than all of the previous presidencies combined.

In the early 1900s, sturgeon caviar was so cheap and plentiful that bars served bowls of it to patrons for free.

In late 18th-century Jamaica slaves comprised nearly 90% of the population.

Muslims around the world participated in bloody riots following the publication of some Danish cartoons which depict the Prophet Mohammed and which they believe to be blasphemous. In his review of the book The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists by Khaled Abou El Fadl, Emran Qureshi says: "But meanwhile, the Saudi state and its religious establishment have been silently and systematically destroying Islamic heritage, especially that associated with the Prophet Mohammed. An excellent new publication, Islamica magazine, has broken the silence by chronicling that destruction. The grave of Amina bin Wahb, the prophet's mother, was bulldozed. Latrines have been built on the birthplace of the Prophet's first beloved wife, Khadija. It is said that the house where the Prophet was born will soon be levelled and turned into a car park. There have been no protests; no convening of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, not a peep from main-stream North American Muslim organizations.

In the above-referred-to book, the author cites the case of a fire in Mecca that killed at least 14 Saudi schoolgirls. Girls attempting to flee the burning building were physically beaten and turned back by the religious police and the school doors locked. The reason given was that the girls were not "properly covered."

The ortolan is a tiny bird which is illegal to eat but is still served in secret to blindfolded guests after hours in some French restaurants. The ortolan is force-fed millet until it is four times its normal size. It is then drowned in Armagnac and roasted for six to eight minutes. The ortolan is eaten whole by placing the entire bird in the mouth with only the head sticking out between the teeth. The head is bitten off and the bird's body is chewed and swallowed. The chewing can take 15 minutes. Former French president Francois Mitterrand ate two ortolans at his last banquet on New Year's Eve, 1995, eight days before he died of cancer.

An Italian cheese called casu marzu is eaten when it is fermented and is only considered mature enough when it is infested with thousands of tiny, transparent maggots.

In the autumn of 2005 Burger King withdrew its ice cream from restaurants in Britain after receiving complaints from Muslims that the swirling illustration on the package resembled the name of Allah.

A 2005 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans if President George W. Bush has been a uniter or a divider. 49% said uniter and 49% said divider.

A piece of French toast, which had been partially eaten by pop singer Justin Timberlake, was purchased on e-bay for over $3000.00 U.S.

Half of the insect species in Canada have no name. For a donation of $1000.00 to its Nature Discovery Fund, The Canadian Museum of Nature will name a bug after you.

In 1943, members of the Royal Canadian Air Force who were under the age of 17 1/2 were called Boy Airmen. They were paid 75 cents per day. When a Boy Airman reached the age of 17 1/2 he became an Aircraftsman Second Class and his pay jumped to $1.25.

The original name of the notorious Los Angeles street gang, The Crips, was The Cribs. It was drunkenly misspelled during an alcohol binge and the misspelling, "Crips", stuck.

The famous writer of fairy tales, Hans Christian Andersen, had a fear of being buried alive. At bed-time he would place a note on his bedside table which said: I only seem to be dead.

Hayabusa, an 1,100 pound Japanese spacecraft, has used an ion propulsion engine to rendezvous (on September 12th, 2005) with Itokawa, an asteroid 180 million miles from Earth. It will land on the surface of Itokawa, gather samples from it and return them to Earth. Inside the ion propulsion engine electrons bombard atoms of xenon gas to create positively charged ions which are propelled out the stern of the spacecraft. This tiny trail of exhaust has about the same thrust as a piece of paper resting on someone's hand, but the force is constant and cumulative, and in the weightlessness of space the ions eventually deliver 10 times the thrust of a conventional rocket. When it reached the asteroid, Hayabusa was traveling at a speed of 67,000 mph.

In June of 2005 Bo Bice, a contestant on the popular American Idol talent show, had his song Inside Your Heaven reach number one on Billboard's singles sales chart. It replaced American Idol winner Carrie Underwood's version of the same song. It was the only time two different versions of the same song have successively held the number one spot on Billboard's chart.

In 2003 11% of all of China's exports to the United States went to Walmart.

The SARS virus, which dominated headlines for months, killed fewer than 1000 people world-wide. About the same number of people die from tobacco addiction every hour.

The southern right whale has the largest testicles in the animal kingdom -- 45 kilograms each. Its ejaculations average 20 litres of sperm. (And it's not even a sperm whale!). Right whales were given their name because they were the "right" whales to hunt. They were slow and would float to the surface when they died.

After the 1755 Lisbon earthquake killed 60,000 people, priests roamed around the ruins, selecting at random those they believed guilty of heresy and thus to blame for annoying God, who in turn created the disaster as a punishment. The priests had them hanged on the spot.

A November 2004 Gallup survey found that a third of all Americans believe the Bible is the actual word of God and that it should be taken literally. The survey also found that 45 percent of Americans think God created human beings pretty much in their present form within the last 10,000 years.

A bristlecone pine tree ,knicknamed Methuselah, in the White-Inyo mountain range of the United States, is 4,723 years old (2005).

A single teaspoon of dirt typically contains about five billion plants and animals.

In 1904 the American gunmaker Smith & Wesson made a .38 caliber revolver. 63 years later the gun was used to murder a filmmaker from Montreal named Hugh O'Connor. O'Connor was killed in eastern Kentucky by a local resident named Hobart Ison who was incensed over media portrayals of the Appalachian region as emblematic of the failure of the American dream. Ison shot O'Connor in the chest. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter, was sentenced to ten years but paroled after only one year. After the trial the local sheriff gave the murder weapon to Ison's nephew, Begie (Moose) Breeding, who placed it in a bank safe-deposit box.
30 years later another filmmaker named Elizabeth Barrett arrived in the area to make a film about the O'Connor killing. When Breeding heard about it he got the gun out of the safe-deposit box and tried to sell it to Barrett for use in the film. After she declined his offer he took the gun back home and kept it there.
On the Sunday after Thanksgiving in 2003, Breeding's 46-year-old housekeeper, Kathy Walters-Williams, stole the gun from Breeding's home and used it to murder 19-year-old Forrester Caudill at a sawmill down the road from Breeding's house. She testfied that she had mistaken Caudill for his cousin whose son she accused of setting fire to her own house.
Amazingly, Breeding expects that the gun will be returned to him and he has no plans to destroy the 100-year-old weapon which has been used to murder two innocent people. Instead he plans to give it to his brother-in-law who, he says, should sell it. Yes, these people are all Americans.

At the height of the summer, 60,000 to 80,000 members of a bee hive collectively fly 55,000 miles and visit two million flowers to make one pound of honey. In its lifetime a single bee will contribute 1/12th of a teaspoon of nectar.

When Abraham Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, fell onto some railway tracks in the Civil War, his life was saved by the brother of John Wilkes Booth.

When you order a burger (or a "sandwich" as McDonalds calls them) at the drive-through McDonald's on Interstate 55 near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, the person taking your order is at a call center 900 miles away in Colorado Springs. He or she then sends it back to that McDonald's and the order is ready a few minutes later as you drive around to the pickup window.

As of 2005, Pixar was the only motion picture studio in history to be successful with every film it has ever made.

London, Ontario, Canada once had the largest number of piano manufacturing companies in the world. At one time Canada had 100 piano makers.

In early 2005 the digital broadcaster Music Choice conducted a poll asking people what music they wanted to have played at their funerals. In the U.K. the top three choices were:
1. Angels by Robbie Williams
2. My Way by Frank Sinatra
3. Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python
In Europe (excluding U.K.) the choices were:
1. The Show Must Go On by Queen
2. Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin
3. Highway to Hell by AC/DC

The first Sony Walkman was built in 1979 when a Sony executive sent a request to the company's tape recorder unit to rig up a portable cassette player that could provide stereo sound but still be light enough to take along on international flights. A small team pulled the recording mechanism and speaker out of the company's monaural Pressman, a cassette recorder used by journalists, installed stereo circuitry and added earphones. It was ready in four days. Since then there have been 1,120 models of the Walkman and Sony has sold 340 million Walkman players.

In January, 1989 a nine-year-old English kid named Craig Shergold was in the hospital with a brain tumor. Seeing the large number of get-well cards Craig had received, his doctor suggested he go for a Guiness Book of World Records title for the greatest number of get-well cards received. A well-connected friend of his mother's got the ball rolling and before long the number had ballooned to 3000 cards. Once the campaign hit the Internet it got completely out of control and is still going today. As of early 2005 Craig is doing fine. He got surgery for the tumour paid for by a rich philanthropist who became aware of his plight via the card campaign and his cancer is in remission. He has received over 350 million cards.

Nutella, the chocolate-hazelnut spread, turned 40 in 2004. It is made in Italy and sold in over 100 different countries. 60 million jars of it are consumed every year in Italy alone. A song praising Nutella was released in 1993; it sold a million copies.

The world's largest exporter of rice is the United States of America. In 2004/2005 it harvested the largest rice crop in the history of the world. Rice is a labour-intensive, low-margin crop whose production should not be part of any wealthy country's economy. California is America's second-largest rice producer (after Arkansas). California rice is grown using vast quantities of water brought in from other states through government-funded canals and pipelines. California rice farmers get government subsidies worth more than half the value of the rice they produce. Much of this rice is sold to Asian countries whose governments are denigrated as socialist by the United States.

When he was in his prime, the literary critic Harold Bloom could read at a rate of 1000 pages per hour (over 16 pages per minute).

The well-known hymn Amazing Grace was written by the captain of an 18th century slave ship, John Newton.

Military veterans make up 9% of the general American population. They make up 23% of the American homeless population.

A head of lettuce flown 5000 kilometres from California to the east coast burns 36 times as much fossil fuel energy in transport as it produces in food energy.

A rumpus of baboons; a murmuration of starlings; a quiver of cobras. Wacky (and real) collective terms for animals can be found at The Beastly Garden of Wordy Delights.

While visiting New York City in the 1940s Winston Churchill was hit by a car. He later wrote a lengthy article about the experience for the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail paid him one pound sterling per word; this amounted to more than his salary as prime minister.

In 2004 1% of the American population controlled 38% of America's wealth.

The human brain's cortex contains at least 30 billion neurons with 1 million billion connections between them; counting one a second, it would take 32 million years to count them all.

The average life expectancy of a woman in Zambia in 2004 was 32.

Medical error is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States.

In September, 1876, a hurricane sent floodwaters churning through the streets of Swan Quarter, North Carolina where local Methodists had tried for months to persuade a landowner to sell them a piece of land for their new church. They finally gave up, built their church nearby. It was dedicated three days before the hurricane struck. The storm-driven flood lifted the new church off its foundation, carried it down the street and deposited it, damp but intact, squarely on the lot the landowner had refused to sell. Convinced that he was on the wrong side of this dispute, the stunned landowner gave the land to the Methodists.

The ports of the Great Lakes handle more cargo than the seaports of the Atlantic and Pacific combined.

In July, 2003, astronomers calculated that there are at least 70,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars in the universe. This is about the same number of molecules in a raindrop.

Bismuth-209 has the longest half-life of any known radioactive element. It takes 20 billion years for half of a given quantity of bismuth-209 to decay into thallium-205. This is longer, by some measures, than the universe itself will exist.

According to economist Amartya Sen, there has never been a major famine in a democracy.

Hong Kong has more Rolls-Royces per capita than any other city in the world.

The Golden-crowned Kinglet is a small bird about the size of a hummingbird. It is native to the State of Maine. It survives all winter in temperatures that can get down to minus 30 Celsius by raising its own body temperature to plus 43 Celsius. They manage this by consuming large quantities of a variety of inch-worm which is also out all winter. They consume, on average, 13 calories per minute. The human equivalent would be 57,600 calories -- or 500 bottles of beer -- every day.

Britain fought two wars against China in the 19th century so that it could retain its position as one the main suppliers of opium to China's drug addicts. The opium was grown under government supervision in British India and by 1910 profits from opium exports accounted for £6.5 million, one sixth of the total revenues of the government of India.

Over the years, one of McDonalds's most successful marketing strategies was to increase the size of the servings it sold. In 1960 an average serving of McDonalds French fries contained 200 calories; in 2003 an average serving contains 610 calories. A regular "meal" in 1960 contained 590 calories; the 2003 equivalent contains 1,550.

From 1996 to 1999 Enron reported $2 billion in profits; it's tax avoidance strategies were so successful that it paid not a single penny to the IRS.

Most early U.S. railroads used a track gauge of 4 feet, 8 1/2 inches, for the illogical reason that this was the standard separation of stagecoach wheels. The distance between stagecoach wheels had, in turn, been determined by the distance between the centers of stone tracks on Roman roads built to accommodate the axel length of military chariots 2000 years earlier.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with being the first one to think of daylight saving time. In 1784 he wrote an essay in which he suggested there would be a saving of candle wax if people could read by natural light later in the evening.

France once tried to ban the Import of English sausages on the grounds that they weren't food.

In 1980, American senior corporate executives were paid, on average, 45 times as much as average employees. By 1997, the multiple had grown to 305. Between 1997 and 2000, a period during which corporate profits grew little, corporate executives made 458 times as much as ordinary employees. By comparison, British CEOs make 24 times as much as ordinary employees and German CEOs make 15 times as much.

When Pierre Trudeau became the Prime Minister of Canada in 1968, the federal debt was $19 billion. When he left power in 1984, the debt was $170 billion, 41% of the GDP. In his final year as prime minister, the Liberal government added $38 billion to the national debt.

At 12 billion dollars per year, marijuana is Ontario's most valuable cash crop.

The current value of the international cocaine trade is over 149 billion dollars, more than the revenues of Microsoft, Kellogg's and McDonald's combined.

According to Dr. Tullis Onstott of Princeton University, the weight of microorganisms under the surface of the soil is greater than the weight of all living things above, including all plants and animals.

Photosynthesis by marine microorganisms, not land-based plants, provide most of Earth's oxygen.

Each year, Americans spend the same amount of money on lawn maintenance as the government of India collects in federal tax revenue.

Because of high levels of illegal logging, the Amazon's big-leaf mahogany tree is considered by the World Wildlife Fund to be one of the world's ten most endangered species. Brazil estimates that 80% of the mahogany it exports has been cut illegally. A recent Greenpeace report entitled Partners in Mahogany Crime says that natives are paid no more than $30.00 (U.S.) for a tree that can be sold for over $3,300.00 on the export market. A single tree can supply enough wood for 15 12-seater dining room tables which retail for $8,550 each. The original mahogany tree, purchased illegally for $30, can be turned into $128,000.00 worth of retail products. In a recent (2002) government crackdown, 60,000 mahogany logs were seized before they could be exported.

If a typical eight-inch-long silicon wafer — the raw material that computer chips are made from — were scaled up to the size of the United States, a single transistor would be the size of a car and an atom would be the size of a pinhead.

Japan allows only about 50 people (all leading target shooters) to own handguns, and while criminals do smuggle them in, there were only 28 gun deaths (murders and suicides combined) in 1999. By contrast, the United States had 26,800 gun deaths in 2000.

There is an estimated $100 million worth of Canadian Tire money in circulation. If it were all cashed in at the same time, the company would go bankrupt.

Albert Einstein's eyes were stolen from his body after its autopsy by an ophthalmologist friend of Einstein's named Henry Abrams. They are currently floating in a jar in a safety deposit box in a bank in New Jersey.

Fossil evidence discovered in Pakistan indicates that the earliest whales looked like small dogs that scampered over land and possibly could not swim.

Scotland was the first country to maintain paper currency on general issue.

If Japan's birth rate continues at its current rate of 1.4 children per woman and its immigration policy remains unchanged, the country's population in the year 3000 will be 500.

Antoine de Sainte-Exupery's book The Little Prince was voted, by the French public, the greatest book of the millennium.

Cats kill an estimated one billion birds a year in the United States.

Millions of faithful Hindus bathe in India's Ganges River, believing it will purify them. India dumps 245,000 gallons of raw sewage into the Ganges every minute.

William the Conqueror's inexpertly preserved body exploded during his funeral.

A human bite exerts 150 pounds per square inch of pressure; a shark's bite exerts 42,000


  • mosquitos beat their wings more than 250 times a second
  • there are 2500 species of mosquitos
  • most mosquitos don't suck blood
  • a person dies of mosquito-carried disease every 12 seconds
  • mosquitos bit dinosaurs
  • mosquitos have affected human history more than all other insect plagues combined
  • male mosquitos detect female mosquitos by the tone of their wingbeats -- they once shut down a Canadian power plant by swarming it in their thousands, cruising for chicks
  • some mosquitos, such as the Aedes communis, feed so aggressively that they can drain -- and kill -- a caribou.
  • mosquitos have survived for millions of years by being adaptable; when Guyana switched from draft horses and oxen to trucks and cars, the Anopheles aquasalis mosquito switched to humans, triggering a resurgence of malaria

La Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris has more than 20,000 books about Joan of Arc.

Every fifth species of living thing on Earth is a beetle.

Pearls melt in vinegar.

In ancient times, runners had their spleens removed, believing it enabled them to run faster.

In 1998, 503 people were murdered in Canada. That same year, 314 people were murdered in Baltimore, an American city smaller than Winnipeg.

Bill Gates's full name, converted to numerical software values, adds up to 666.

4 per cent of Earth's surface is waves or foam, exactly the size of the North American continent

All the people on Earth, stacked like a Rubik's cube, would fit into Lake Windermere in England's Lake District.

At present, the dead outnumber the living 14 to 1 and of the dead roughly 80 billion are babies or children.

Over 300 million eggs of silly putty have been sold.

It takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough leather
for an entire year's supply of footballs.

Average life span of a major league baseball: 7 pitches.

A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

An ostrich's eye is bigger that it's brain.

Voltaire drank 50 to 70 cups of coffee a day.

The mask used by Michael Myers in the original "Halloween" was
actually a Captain Kirk mask painted white.

Snails can sleep for 3 years without eating.

Humphrey Bogart was related to Princess Diana; they were seventh cousins.

The first Harley Davidson motorcycle built in 1903 used a tomato can for a carburetor.

There are only two animals that can see behind them without turning their heads: rabbits and parrots.

On average people fear spiders more than they do death.

The strongest muscle in the body is the tongue.

Americans eat 18 acres of pizza everyday.

The catfish has over 27,000 taste buds. That makes the catfish
#1 for the animal having the most taste buds.

The flea can jump 350 times its body length. It's like a human
jumping the length of a football field.

A cockroach will live nine days without it's head, before it starves to death.

The male praying mantis cannot copulate while its head is attached to its body. The female initiates sex by ripping the males head off.

Exercise is the single most important anti-aging measure anyone can follow. Regardless of age, disability or general level of fitness, a sedentary lifestyle accelerates nearly every unwanted aspect of aging. Conversely, physical activity slows the erosion of muscle strength, maintains better cardiovascular and respiratory function, limits the risk of developing diabetes and increases bone mass, which helps prevent osteoporosis. Exercise also facilitates digestion, promotes efficient bowel function, reduces insomnia and helps prevents depression.

The M&Ms production line cranks out 12 million of the chocolate candies every hour.

The average American eats 25 pounds of chocolate each year.

Forrest Mars Sr., the head of the Mars candy company, once temporarily changed the name of the Snickers candy bar because he didn't like the way it rhymed with knickers. (Mars's sons are reputed to be tremendously unpleasant. In 1994, Fortune magazine described Forrest Jr. as "a mouthful of gasoline in search of an ignition source.")

It is estimated there are 110 million land mines in the ground around the world. Modern land mines are only 2.5 centimeters across, weigh 30 grams and contain no metal.

The oldest known goldfish lived to 41 years of age. Its name was Fred.

In 1983, a Japanese artist made a copy of the Mona Lisa entirely out of toast.

Most American car horns honk in the key of F.

The world's largest dump is New York's Fresh Kills landfill site. It grows by 13,000 tonnes of garbage a day and accounts for 2% of the world's methane gas emissions. New York City's sanitation department proposed tours of the dump in 1996. It also wanted to build a visitor's center and sell souvenir T-shirts. New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani nixed the plan calling it insensitive and foolish.

Legend has it that in 212 B.C. when the Romans besieged the Greek city of Syracuse, Archimedes set fire to the invading fleet with an array of mirrors. In 1973, at a naval base near Athens, a Greek engineer named Ioannes Sakkis attempted to determine whether this was possible using 50 to 60 bronze mirrors pointed at a rowboat more than 50 metres out in the bay. In less than two minutes, the target was ablaze.

Each second, Earth is struck by 4.5 pounds of sunlight.

The busiest McDonalds in the world is located in Pushkin Square, Moscow, Russia. Before it opened, 27,000 people applied to work there.

Syphilis is often cured by malaria.

The U.S. mint makes 13 billion pennies a year. This accounts for 2/3 of all American coinage. Half of these pennies will disappear from circulation within a year after being made. There are 170 billion pennies currently in circulation. Each penny costs 4/5 of a cent to make. American pennies are no longer copper, but copper-plated zinc. After distribution and overhead is figured in, the U.S. mint loses $8 million a year manufacturing pennies.

Microbial communities made up of organisms less than two microns in diameter account for 95% of the mass of all sea life.

At one point in the 1980s, before the Asian monetary crisis of the 1990s caused Japan's bubble to burst, land in Tokyo was worth more than all the land in the United States.

The bristle-cone pine lives for 5000 years.

Annual surveys by the U.S. National Science Foundation show that fewer than half of the respondents knew that electrons are smaller than atoms or that Earth goes around the Sun once a year.


Strange Tales

Public Petting Frustrates Students

London -- Sexually frustrated students at an Oxford University college have appointed a sex snoop to patrol the grounds in an effort to stamp out public kissing, cuddling and the more passionate shows of affection.

Undergraduates at Exeter College also voted to ban heavy petting in the dining room and to split the junior common room into two areas, one for heavy petting and one for light petting.

There was a growing number of complaints at the college that couples were too public in their petting, causing single students to feel left out.

After the motion passed, Roger Evers, a third-year classics student, was assigned to patrol the college grounds and issue advice to persistent offenders.

The students also supported a motion banning intercourse in the library between 3:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. -- Reuters

Kiki and Raggot's Strange Adventure

This strange tail (er, tale) was allegedly reported in the Los Angeles Times.

"In retrospect, lighting the match was my big mistake. But I was only trying to retrieve the gerbil," Eric Tomaszewski told bemused doctors in the Severe Burns Unit of Salt Lake City Hospital. Tomaszewski, and his homosexual partner Andrew "Kiki" Farnum, had been admitted for emergency treatment after a felching session had gone seriously wrong.

"I pushed a cardboard tube up his rectum and slipped Raggot, our gerbil, in," he explained. "As usual, Kiki shouted out 'Armageddon', my cue that he'd had enough. I tried to retrieve Raggot but he wouldn't come out again, so I peered into the tube and struck a match, thinking the light might attract him."

At a hushed press conference, a hospital spokesman described what happened next. "The match ignited a pocket of intestinal gas and a flame shot out the tube, igniting Mr. Tomaszewski's hair and severely burning his face. It also set fire to the gerbil's fur and whiskers which in turn ignited a larger pocket of gas further up the intestine, propelling the rodent out like a cannonball."

Tomaszewski suffered second degree burns and a broken nose from the impact of the gerbil, while Farnum suffered first and second degree burns to his anus and lower intestinal tract.


A poll released in March, 1997 revealed that 87 per cent of Americans believe they will go to heaven. The same poll showed that only 67 per cent believe heaven exists.


Newspaper Headlines

(collected by actual journalists)

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

Safety Experts Say School Bus Passengers Should Be Belted
Drunk Gets Nine Months in Violin Case
Survivor of Siamese Twins Joins Parents
Farmer Bill Dies in House
Iraqi Head Seeks Arms
Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?
Stud Tires Out
Prostitutes Appeal to Pope
Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
Soviet Virgin Lands Short of Goal Again
British Left Waffles on Falkland Islands
Lung Cancer in Women Mushrooms
Eye Drops off Shelf
Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
Reagan Wins on Budget, But More Lies Ahead
Squad Helps Dog Bite Victim
Shot Off Woman's Leg Helps Nicklaus to 66
Enraged Cow Injures Farmer with Ax
Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told
Miners Refuse to Work after Death
Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
Stolen Painting Found by Tree
Two Soviet Ships Collide, One Dies
Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter
Killer Sentenced to Die for Second Time in 10 Years
Never Withhold Herpes Infection from Loved One
Drunken Drivers Paid $1000 in `84
War Dims Hope for Peace
If Strike isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Enfields Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge
Deer Kill 17,000
Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Chef Throws His Heart into Helping Feed Needy
Arson Suspect is Held in Massachusetts Fire
British Union Finds Dwarfs in Short Supply
Ban On Soliciting Dead in Trotwood
Lansing Residents Can Drop Off Trees
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
New Vaccine May Contain Rabies
Man Minus Ear Waives Hearing
Deaf College Opens Doors to Hearing
Air Head Fired
Steals Clock, Faces Time
Prosecutor Releases Probe into Undersheriff
Old School Pillars are Replaced by Alumni
Bank Drive-in Window Blocked by Board
Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors
Some Pieces of Rock Hudson Sold at Auction
Sex Education Delayed, Teachers Request Training
Include your Children when Baking Cookies


Other Newspaper Items

A Colombian man who claimed to be the smallest man in Latin America has died in Bogota after a short bout with pneumonia.
The Ottawa Citizen, April 8, 1997.

The Washington Post ran a "Worst Analogies Ever Written in a High School Essay" contest. Here are a few of the winners:

  • McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty Bag filled with vegetable soup.
  • He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
  • The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
  • Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
  • John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
  • His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.


True Romance

Thomas Edison proposed to his second wife while taking a chaperoned buggy ride with her. Presumably to avoid having the chaperones overhear, he popped the question by tapping it out in Morse code on the buggy seat. She accepted by tapping out her reply, also in Morse code.

The name Simone de Beauvoir is most often linked with that of Jean Paul Sartre but the true love of her life was American writer Nelson Algren. On their first date in Chicago, Algren took her on a tour of the county jail and showed her the electric chair.

Vladimir Mayakovsky was regarded as the poet of the Russian revolution. When news spread that the revolution had been betrayed, he fled to Paris. While there he met and fell in love with Tatiana Yakovleva, the daughter of a an anti-Soviet Russian general living in exile. When earlier news of the revolution's betrayal turned out to be false, Mayakovsky decided to return to Moscow. Because of her father's political position, Tatiana could not go with him. The day before he left, Vladimir took all his money to a florist and asked that Tatiana should have red roses every day for the rest of her life. After his return to Moscow and the success of the revolution, Mayakovsky eventually fell out of favour with the communists; he committed suicide in 1930. Tatiana remained in Paris and spent the rest of her life there. The florist, taken with the idea of Mayakovsky's request, somehow made it happen. Tatiana received red roses from Vladimir every day of her life. She died recently at the age of 91.


The Rich & Famous

In addition to being a famous movie star, Mae West wrote 12 stage plays. In 1934 she was the highest paid woman in the United States.

After sharpshooter Annie Oakley retired from Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show in 1913 she paid for the schooling of 18 young women and had her gold medals melted down and sold to help fight tuberculosis.

In his later years, despite the fact that he was virtually deaf, Thomas Edison insisted on choosing every singer who appeared on Edison phonograph records himself. The only way he could hear them was to bite down on the wood of the phonograph cabinet, causing the sound to travel through bone to his inner ear. He made his final decisions by visually inspecting magnified record grooves. He claimed this enabled him to determine which singers had the most acoustically perfect voices.

As a child, the famous French film director Francois Truffaut never knew who his real father was. After he grew up and became an established figure in French cinema, he hired a private detective to find his father. He turned out to be a dentist living in a small town outside Paris. Truffaut went to the town and waited outside his father's house. When his father came out to take an after-dinner walk, Truffaut followed him but could not bring himself to say anything. Truffaut died in 1984. He was 52. He and his father never met.


Funny Names

The April, 1993 edition of the late, lamented Spy Magazine featured this list of unusual names which had been compiled, it said, by a senior New York City police official:

Leandis Medley, Stonewall Odom, Carelton St. Bernard, Fotis Taraskebaides, Dewitt Thrasher, Rakaldi Zinn, Neverson Hardly, Moses Venue, Rodrigo Geeds, Flywright Green, Pearly Peeples, Woody Head, Gladstone Swell, Hoptin Fray, Ivanhoe Bryant, Lensworth Nosworthy, Leroy Longmire, Dennis Womp, Baldwin Fangi, Heben Dunkley, Tribuneal Registra, Spurgeon Covington, Gary Cabbagestalk, Claude St. Come, Carl Master Ward Pegram, Broch Bloch, Venancious Ferguson, Lexi Funderburk, Robert Sherlock Holmes, Singletary Boe, Fluester McKoy, Lindberg Spears, Obedieth Belvin, Iona Blowe, Riggs Moody Touchberry, Maverick Boone, Pioneer Crump, Human Matthews, Herman M. Werman, Dionysios Lumpkin, Lemonis Adannis, Japel LeCunt, Dipper Cramer, Columbus Dicks, Samson Salami, Turnip Seed, Petrolium Bedford, Quo Vadis Burwell, Oxygen Smith, Mel Slappy, Perlay Bovain, the Rev. De Chicken La Holmes.

High society types are notorious for giving their kids weird nicknames. These names appeared in the society column of the Philadelphia Enquirer:

Barkie, Bunkie, Bunty, Cackie, Caughie, Choppy, Dini, Dodo, Dudy, Elfie, Floss, Frolic, Gee, Happy, Kinnie, Margy, Metsie, Minky, Peppi, Perky, Phippy, Pixie, Pooh, Sibby, Siggy, Taddi, Tenny, Trophy, Weezie, Wiggie, Winky, Wistie, Woosie.

Hizzoner, The Mayor of KenniesBurg, not to be outdone, has started compiling his own list of odd monikers. All of the names on his list presented themselves as the senders of spam e-mail messages he has received:

Aggie Oaks, Alvin Dance, Antranig Harlan, Asta Dialo, Dario Blaze, Delilah Chuck, Dotson Alexender, Esma Dembe, Eulalie Ariella, Ferdinand Paulina, Flint Malia, Forrester Betsy, George Washington, Jorge Hede, Keala Odelia, Keegan Wynona, Kelvin Ringo, Marlon Brando, Merwin Eivinich, Mignon Delagarza, Montague Dialo, Mr Schenznozt, Natala Alaqua, Nibal Fynn, Noleta Ulysses, Oistin Amina, Omega Heller, Oz Jabir, Ozella Peloso, Pat Bagglesdorf, Prentice Tad, Prudence Nixie, Regalando Todo, Sela Moon-unit, Sevinc Mikkel, Tecla Cayla, Webster Tallis, Zesira Pierre, Zili Talasi,


Random Thoughts

(If you call this thinking)

Indecision is the key to flexibility.

There is absolutely no substitute for genuine lack of preparation.

Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.

If you think that there is good in everybody, you haven't met everybody.

All things being equal, fat people use more soap.

If you can smile when things go wrong, then you have someone in mind to blame.

One-seventh of your life is spent on Monday.

Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.

There is always one more imbecile than you counted on.

Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.