15 Trivia Tidbits for Saturday, May 18, 2024

What if a tornado could give you a fatal case of zombie flesh?
15 Trivia Tidbits for Saturday, May 18, 2024

A tornado-ish storm ripped through Houston this week, and the sequel to the 1996 movie Twister comes out this summer. You should therefore start reviewing your tornado preparedness right now, before it’s too late. You probably already know all about how useful cellars are, and how you shouldn’t point your bicycle directly at the storm. But have you considered the underreported dangers of zombified flesh?

We’re serious about that last part. Find our what we mean below, along with some information about how elephants are eviler than we thought. 

Nuke Them From Orbit

A plague of locusts attacked Colorado in 1937, and it got so bad, the National Guard fought back with flamethrowers and dynamite. The locusts shrugged these off

The Birth of Toast

Our ancestors baked bread before they’d ever started farming. You’d think cooking recipes from wheat would come after simply growing wheat, but baking predates agriculture.

Mouse’s Revenge

In 2009, a lab tech in France pricked a finger while working around mice. It took 10 years for the results of the infection to manifest. They included pain, madness and finally death.

This Solves Everything

Serendipity is when you luck into something. But what if bad luck instead makes everything go wrong for you? Don’t worry — you can just use a different word for that. Call it “zemblanity.”


Georgia has a 150-foot canyon, which is now a tourist attraction. It formed because, in the 1830s, people farmed so hard that all the soil went away, and then water eroded the rock below.

Robbie Honerkamp

The message here is that true art demands sacrifice.


Passengers and crew on a Greek cruise in 2000 were excited by watching a soccer match on television. After a Greek player scored a difficult goal, the whole crew left the bridge to watch a replay. The ship hit a rock, and 82 people died. 

How Do They Work?

In the 19th century, you could buy a magnetic undergarment, known as the Thacher Magnetic Shield. These shields, claimed Dr. C.J. Thacher, could cure “all disease not in the fatal stage of dissolution of tissues.” This claim was, shall we say, unconfirmed. 

Mmmm... Urban Sprawl

City planners in England and the U.S. both refer to something called “the doughnut effect.” Weirdly, the two countries are talking about opposite things. In America, it’s prospering suburbs surrounding a hollowed-out inner city, while in England, it’s a rich inner city surrounded by gloom. That’s because American donuts most often have holes, while British ones most often have jam centers.

No Alibi

A woman working as a TSA guard in New York in 2019 surprised a passenger by passing him a note. The note read, “You ugly!!!” The TSA initially did not respond to his complaints but ultimately fired the guard. 


A tornado can infect you with a flesh-eating fungus. Tornados stir up Cutaneous mucormycosis, which leads to necrotic flesh. After one 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri, this fungus killed five people. 

 An Bras Dermatol

The flesh is too horrifying to show here, so here’s a skin biopsy.

King of the Zoo

An elephant at a German zoo in 1984 used its trunk to turn a hot water valve. This released scalding water over a family of hippos, killing them. 

Van Go

Arsonist Julien Chautard may have served the shortest prison stint ever. He was dropped off at the prison by a van, and then he furtively crawled underneath that same vehicle, which drove him right back out

What Is This Shit?

A 1990s kids’ typing program called Secret Writer's Society used text-to-speech, and it had an internal swear list for filtering, so it wouldn’t narrate any swears that kids type. But thanks to a bug, a simple double-click on the window made the program read aloud this entire swear list.

Finders Weepers

Someone found a sack of cash containing $45,000 in their own attic 2011. It belonged to the house’s previous owner. Crazily, the finder returned it to the old owner’s family instead of keeping it.


During the Crimean War, a man named James Wallace requested to join the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, for unclear reasons. Then, when another man was shot, Wallace revealed that he’d joined just to see that specific guy die. He next threw himself into the battle madly, now that he was ready to die himself. This didn’t work as planned, as he survived. 

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