15 Trivia Tidbits for Saturday, July 6, 2024

There used to be a great alternative to coffee, it had just one little problem
15 Trivia Tidbits for Saturday, July 6, 2024

This week brought big election news from around the world, with major changes coming in Britain and France. In times of upheaval, you need to turn to the one thing we can all depend on: facts. For example, consider facts about seafood, long-lost children or the world’s most scary swimming spot. Also, if you want to know whether looking authoritative might just kill you, you better start reading immediately. 

The Polar Exception

The movie The Polar Express features famously uncanny motion-captured animation. This wasn’t exactly a creative choice. The book’s author specifically demanded that the movie not be animated when signing over the rights, and motion capture offered a loophole that let the filmmakers animate it anyway. 

Aw, Nuts

Pistachios used to be red or green but rarely are anymore. We used to dye them to cover up stains and flaws, because we used to get them all from Iran, which didn’t use the modern harvesting process we now use. 

Cat Attack

Toxoplasmosis is a disease you may get when a parasite moves to you from your cat. Along with various strange consequences on your brain, it leads to an increased chance of getting in a car accident

The One-Armed Man

From 1931 to 2017, it was illegal to own a switchblade in Michigan. However, there was one exception: You were allowed to carry one if you had only one arm

Heavy Is the Head

In 1953, a retired British tax inspector announced that he had the head of King Henry IV. We think he was telling the truth. Though if he was not, that just raises further questions.

Engraving of Henry IV

Emanuel van Meteren

The head looks gross, so here’s a picture from when he was alive. 

Spicy Water

If you’re looking for a more exciting job, consider becoming a nuclear diver. You get to dive into the storage ponds at nuclear waste sites to take care of maintenance. 

Medicinal Brew

In the 18th century, English stalls would sell a third drink alongside coffee and tea: saloop, which was made from orchids. Besides being a refreshment, it was used to treat venereal disease, and when news of that spread, people became too embarrassed to drink it anymore. 

Extra Scary

When preparing to shoot The Exorcist, director William Friedkin viewed a real-life angiogram, and he found the sight so impressive, he cast several of the medical personnel responsible for it in his movie. One of them, nurse Paul Bateson, got a speaking role. He was later convicted of murder. 

The Itch Spreads

Bedbugs had seemingly been wiped out in America by the 1980s and 1990s. They became vastly more common since then. One reason: We travel more now, so we spread the bugs around more.

Tasty Adductors

Based on food you’ve eaten, you might think the scallop is just a squishy cylinder of flesh. But that cylinder is one single muscle of a larger animal. We discard the rest because it’s toxic. 

Scallops caramelizing in clarified butter in a very hot pan

Joy/Wiki Commons

These aren’t scallops, any more than a hot wings are chickens.

Left Behind

For years, people shared the statistic that right-handed people outlive left-handed ones by nine years on average. Then someone sat down and realized that stat was nonsense. There are fewer elderly lefties, but only because more people born lefties used to be raised as righties.  

The Sam Browne Belt

Police used to commonly wear a leather strap across the chest, running from the right shoulder to the left side of the waist. They eventually discarded it when they realized it was a great tool opponents could use to strangle them

The Technology of My Time

In 1913, a scientist named Lewis Fry Richardson created an algorithm to forecast what the weather would be like six hours into the future. Unfortunately, no computers existed that could run these calculations quickly, and doing the math himself took six weeks

Mom ’n’ Pop Store

When he turned 18, Michigan man Steve Flaig sought to find his birth mother. Thanks to a typo, this took four years. It turned out that she worked in the same Lowe’s branch he did, by complete coincidence

One-Line Résumé

Pluto was first spotted by an amateur. At least, Clyde Tombaugh was an amateur on the day he saw Pluto through his telescope. He managed to land an astronomy job fairly easily after that

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