15 Acres of Trivia We Planted This Week

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15 Acres of Trivia We Planted This Week

In 1839, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the following about a woman he was courting: “Victory hangs doubtful. The lady says she will not! I say she shall! It is not pride, but the madness of passion.” Four years later, this Frances Appleton relented and sent him a letter saying she’d marry him. He immediately headed to her house, which was 90 minutes away on foot.

They did marry, but it all ended in tragedy, as all things must. Find out what happened below, along with some info on the perils of llama ownership. 

Extra Extra

Cognac is graded based on how old it is, and these grades can be a bit confusing. The lowest grade is “Very Special.” The second-youngest type is called “Very Old.” Above that, we have “Extra Old” and then “Extra Extra Old.” There’s also a classification called “Beyond Age.”

The Birthplace of Rounders

Baseball was as big as soccer in England in the 1930s. There was a baseball World Cup in 1938, and England soundly defeated America. No World Cup took place the following year or at all during World War II, and when the war was done, England somehow never got back to baseball.

Burning Sensation

In 1940, the FTC had to crack down on a product being sold by the Nutex Company: radium condoms. The radioactivity offered additional protection against disease, claimed Nutex. 

The Color Wheel of Progress

Some languages specify more colors than others. But as languages develop, they all add in colors the same way. They start by separating dark from light. Then they add red. From there, green and yellow are added. 

Fly, My Pretties

In Nepal, you can go parahawking, which is a combination of paragliding with falconry. Tie a giant vulture to your chute and let it guide you, hoping it does not attack you.

Golden eagle and paraglider

Thermik 88/Wiki Commons

Or sub in an eagle, which is slightly less creepy.

Mickey Sicky

When you lay down poison for mice, why don’t their bodies react and make them throw up? Because they can’t ever throw up. Their diaphragms are too weak to squeeze their stomachs, and their brains lack vomit circuitry. 

Hot Fashion

Long skirts used to be quite a fire hazard. For example, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s wife died when her skirt caught fire. He mourned her by clipping some hair off her and putting it in an envelope, and writing the wrong year on top.

Tax Counseling

IRS agents have a specific guide for what happens when a taxpayer threatens to kill themselves. Among other instructions is this bolded one: Do not transfer the call or place the taxpayer on hold. Additional sections cover in-person suicide threats and written threats. 

Taxi Evasion

In Dublin, roads have lanes that are reserved just for buses and taxis. The CEO of the airline Ryanair gained access to these lanes by buying a taxi license, for a taxi company that consisted entirely of his personal car. 

Hissing and Spitting

If you happen to own a llama, beware of berserk llama syndrome. The issue here is the llama becomes aggressive because it sees its handler as a llama, and llamas hate llamas.

Kim Foster

If you like llamas, that’s another reason you’ll never see eye-to-eye.

Forgotten Endorsement

Circassian women were the best in the world, people said in the 18th century. Makeup used to be advertised by saying Circassian women wore it. Today, we’ve not only forgotten the stereotype, we’ve forgotten the Circassians (because Russians killed most of them). 

Cloud Before the Cloud

A decade or two ago, spies and terrorists thought they were being very smart by using a technique called foldering. Rather than send an email to a recipient, a sender would write a draft and then let the recipient read the draft, without the message ever being sent. 

For Want of a Nail

Nails used to be so expensive, they were their own segment of the economy, equal to the share that computers have today. People would burn down a barn to get rid of all that useless construction and leave the nails easy to retrieve.

From 1 to 5

Doctors needing to numerically describe men’s boners came up with a measure called the erectile hardness scale, or EHS. The EHS was devised through a project called SCORE (Scoring Correspondence in Outcomes Related Erectile Dysfunction Treatment).

Case Closed

In 2010, British authorities discovered the corpse of a MI6 spy locked in a bag in a bathroom. After three years of investigation, they concluded that the death was accidental, and the man had locked himself in the bag.

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